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From Worst To First: Here’s How Each State Ranks For Finding Tech Talent In 2021

Looking for highly skilled technology workers? CRN’s annual Best States project ranks all 50 states for finding and hiring technology employees.

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Tech Talent In The 50 States

Ask any channel company executive about their biggest challenges today and finding qualified candidates to fill technology positions within their company will likely be at or near the top of the list.

The media today is filled with stories about how businesses in all sectors of the economy are struggling in the wake of the pandemic to find people to fill open jobs. But finding and hiring qualified people in the IT industry is almost always a significant challenge for IT vendors, for IT managers inside businesses and organizations – and certainly for executives and business owners in the channel.

This marks the ninth year CRN has undertaken its Best States project to provide channel company executives and entrepreneurs with state-by-state information to help them start and run a solution provider business.

This year, with the problem of finding and hiring tech talent seemingly more acute than ever, we’ve focused on collecting and crunching data on a state-by-state basis to help the channel get a clearer picture of the tech workforce, providing insights for solution providers looking to hire for the home office, for hiring remote workers (increasingly common in a post-pandemic world), and hiring for expansions into new states and regions.

The following slides examine each state according to a range of criteria. For workforce education and experience we specifically look at such statistics as state education rankings and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) concentration, the number of workers in each state with college degrees and science/engineering degrees, state tech employment growth or declines (2019-2020) and estimates (2020-2021), tech jobs as a percent of each state’s total workforce, and tech salaries in each state.

We’ve also collected and analyzed general economic and employment data for each state including unemployment rates, job posting volume, GDP (and tech industry as a percent of total GDP), the number of solution providers in each state, and each state’s economic and employment recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

(A complete look at the raw data is available at A discussion of the data, along with a complete list of criteria and data sources, is provided on the final slide of this presentation.)

The following ranks all 50 states, starting with the worst (No. 50) to the best (No. 1) for finding and hiring tech talent overall. We also provide rankings for the “workforce education and experience” and the “state employment and economy” criteria categories, as well as specific data points such as the number of tech workers and average tech salary in each state.

Keep in mind that every state has its strengths and weaknesses: California, for example, has nearly twice as many tech workers than the next nearest state. But there are nearly twice as many tech companies – including solution providers – competing for those workers. And with the second-highest average salary for tech workers, you’ll pay more for that tech talent in California.

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