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Who's bigger in NYC, tech or Wall Street?

Here's how to interpret all those numbers about the technology sector

In 2015 the Federal Reserve Bank of New York reported there were 117,000 jobs at tech companies in New York City, and noted that inclusion of self-employed freelancers would make the number somewhat larger.

Last September the state comptroller put the figure at just over 120,000.

One month later a study by consultants HR&A Advisors, commissioned by several civic groups, came up with a tech ecosystem of 320,000.

Figuring out the size of the tech sector isn’t straightforward and the de Blasio administration’s penchant for including tech-related jobs at nontech companies confuses the issue even more.

The problem begins with the way the federal government tracks companies and jobs, which scatters tech companies in several different categories. The second problem is defining what is a tech company. HR&A, for example, included 15,00 workers at wired telecommunications companies. Laying and repairing phone lines doesn’t seem like a tech business to most experts.

The New York Fed includes “firms which use technology as the core of their business strategy.” The comptroller uses a similar definition. The best guess of the employment number is 120,000, up 60% in this decade. By comparison, Wall Street employs 180,000, colleges and universities about 150,000, law about 80,000 and advertising 75,000. Tech companies’ average pay is $150,000, second only to Wall Street.

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