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Boulder rated top nationally for residents engaged in "brainpower" jobs, Pueblo near bottom

December 15, 2016 Updated: December 15, 2016 at 6:01 pm
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Aerial photo of the Flatirons in Boulder in the fall season (Photo via bouldercolorado.gov)

Two Colorado cities are at opposite ends of the pendulum swing nationally when it comes to workforce and high-tech jobs, according to the newest Bloomberg Brain Concentration Index.

Boulder tops the list, buoyed by the University of Colorado and its reputation as a technology company incubator, even beating out Silicon Valley, with San Jose, Calif. listed second. At the other end, Pueblo is second from the bottom for "brain drain."

The Bloomberg index measured the portion of the population employed in science, technology and engineering fields, or those who have college educations in science and engineering.

Bloomberg pointed out the Boulder area is home to technology, software, aerospace, bio-science and renewable energy jobs, as well as such federal laboratories as the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

"The public-sector presence contributed to the brains," Clif Harald, executive director of the Boulder Economic Council, told Bloomberg.

San Jose was followed by Ann Arbor, Mich., Ithaca, N.Y., and Washington, D.C., rounding out the top five.

 

According to an analysis by Sperling's Best Places, Pueblo trails in most national quality of life standards and income averages. Job growth is about half the national average, while residents exceed the national average for sales and income taxes.

Moreover, about 2.4 percent of the city's population is employed in "engineering, computers or science," while the national average is 5.3 percent, according to Sperling's.

Pueblo was topped in the brain drain category only by the Appalachian city of Cumberland, Md., and followed by Valdosta, Ga.; Goldsboro, N.C.; and Muskegon, Mich.

Each of the last two sessions, Colorado legislators have invested in workforce training to attract more high-tech employers, such as Boulder's cache.

Lawmakers passed jobs bills called the "Ready to Work Package" that included tax credits for businesses that provide apprenticeships, an expansion of the computer science curriculum for public schools and bonuses for school districts that provide "rigorous workplace training" to meet specific needs by good-paying industries.

Crisanta Duran of Denver, who is set to become House speaker in January, said at the time that the average salary for a computer-programming job in Colorado is more than $92,000 a year, yet the companies in the state had a capacity to hire an estimated 16,000 people, if they could find qualified local workers.

"But only 1 in 4 Colorado high schools teach computer programming," she said. "In the 21st century computer literacy is a ticket to success. Let's make sure every Colorado student has a chance to punch that ticket."

Also last year, lawmakers provided $8 million for the National Cybersecurity Center in Colorado Springs to help train workers and attract employers in the emerging industry.

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