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Tech industry continues to thrive in California

California has always been a mecca of technology employment, with its infamous Silicon Valley region housing some of the biggest names and brightest minds in the industry.

Tech expansion extends throughout the state 
The recent tech boom has caused the state’s tech sector to expand even further. San Jose Mercury News reported that the field is propelling California toward record-breaking employment numbers. According to the source, California surpassed 16 million nonfarm jobs in April for the first time ever. This job total was 3.6 percent greater than in July 2007, the last time the state experienced a peak in its labor situation.

The recent expansions to the tech sector have not been relegated to Silicon Valley, however. The industry is experiencing major growth in Los Angeles and San Francisco as well. San Jose Mercury News explained that although the Bay Area experienced some decline to the field after the dot-com burst, its tech industry expanded by 100 percent between 2005 and 2013. Currently, the San Francisco-San Mateo region is just 45,000 jobs away from its peak tech employment numbers.

Los Angeles is also home to a burgeoning tech sector, reported the Los Angeles Times. The source noted that in 2013, tech positions accounted for 9 percent of all jobs in the county. Software and Internet organizations increased their presence in the area by 13.5 percent between 2003 and 2013. And while the region is still lagging behind San Francisco and Silicon Valley in terms of its tech workforce, California venture capitalist Mark Suster told the Los Angeles Times to focus more on newer, smaller businesses than well-established organizations.

“The real measure of the future economy is how many tech start-up jobs you have. We’ve had a demonstrable improvement in the last five years,” Suster told the news source.

Los Angeles home to a widespread tech sector 
While it is clear Los Angeles is becoming a prominent county for California tech employment, there has been an ongoing debate among industry professionals about what types of businesses fall into this category. Many up-and-coming companies have appeared on the scene via mobile apps, and despite their products being non-tech related, their approach to distribution has placed them in a technological gray area.

The Los Angeles Times pointed to ride-sharing apps Uber and Lyft as prime examples of this trend. While these organizations are essentially taxi services, their focus is primarily on developing and maintaining their mobile apps.

“There’s no well-defined tech sector. There’s clearly a large and vibrant technology sector that runs across many traditional sectors in Los Angeles – that is clear. What that translates to in terms of employment and income – that’s a little less clear,”  Jerry Nickelsburg, an economics professor at UCLA, told the Los Angeles Times.

The source reported that most professionals adhere to standards set by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. when determining whether a company should be considered a part of the tech industry. These guidelines veer on the side of inclusivity and consider organizations spanning multiple industries, from architecture to aerospace development, to fit in the high-tech field.