Everyone who’s followed Amazon’s highly publicized search for a second headquarters site (which wound up choosing second and third headquarters sites) knows that New York City and the Washington, D.C. suburb of Arlington, Virginia were selected because of their abundant supply of world-class tech workers. Or at least that’s what the on-line retail behemoth said.
Except a leading business group from New York – which has applauded the city’s win – has just come out with some projections completely belying this claim.
According to The Partnership for New York City, “Amazon is the first tech mega-company headquarters to locate in New York City, a breakthrough that will solidify the city’s future as a leader in the world’s fastest-growing industry.”
But in its latest quarterly Dashboard NYC, which tracks leading indicators of the city’s economic performance, The Partnership also forecast that, of the 25,000 net new jobs likely to be created directly by the new Amazon facilities in Long Island City, Queens, and the nearly 90,000 increase in the region’s payrolls that will be generated indirectly, 68 percent won’t require a high school education. In fact, 18 percent won’t even require any formal schooling. And another ten percent will be fill-able by folks with only some post-high school education.
As a result, fewer than one-third of these jobs (some 32,000) will require a bachelor’s degree of some kind. It’s true that a relevant college or graduate degree isn’t needed for success in technology (as most dramatically demonstrated by the founding of Microsoft by Harvard dropout Bill Gates, and the creation of Apple by Reed College dropout Steve Jobs). Indeed, a recent analysis of Census Bureau data reports that fully 35 percent of the country’s science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) workforce lacks a bachelor’s degree, and that 80 percent of this subgroup have had only some college courses.
But it’s also true that far from all of the 32,000 total Amazon-created jobs that will require completing an undergraduate college education will be science and tech positions. For instance, many will certainly come in managerial or administrative positions at Amazon itself, and in all non-Amazon companies that add new hires because of Amazon, or that are created because of Amazon, that won’t require a special tech background.
I’m certainly not qualified to second-guess Amazon’s decisions. And maybe the situation in the Washington, D.C. area is significantly different (though this article indicates that it’s not – albeit not in the way you may think). What does seem clear, though, is that the company hasn’t been leveling with the rest of the country (or the world) about its new headquarters decision. And when the dissembler is the world’s second largest U.S.-based publicly traded non-government employer (behind WalMart), that should raise a question or two.