Recently we announced a groundbreaking tool for job data research: UMD-LinkUp AI Maps, the world’s first tool for measuring and visualizing the creation of jobs requiring artificial intelligence skills. A new white paper, From West to the Rest, leverages the AI Map to track growth and dispersion of AI Jobs over the last six years.
Between 2018 and 2023, demand for jobs requiring skills in AI underwent a significant regional transformation, dispersing significantly from long standing epicenters like Silicon Valley to emerging hotspots across the United States. While the specialization inherent in AI roles means this dispersion may not match the broader landscape of all IT jobs just yet, its implications for the nation's economy are profound, with research indicating a marked boost in productivity across blue- and white-collar industries alike.
States Winning, States Losing
Delving into the data reveals a tale of winners and losers in the accelerating race for AI labor share. Virginia, Texas, Maryland, Florida, and Georgia have emerged as frontrunners, experiencing substantial increases in their share of AI job postings since 2018. Virginia nearly doubled its portion of all AI jobs from 4.18% to 7.99%, fueled largely by a push for AI-driven innovation from the Department of Defense and other federal agencies.
Meanwhile, AI stalwarts like California and New York saw their dominance wane, albeit while maintaining a strong majority of AI employment. Even as California's share dipped to 19.03%, down from 26.51% in 2018, its absolute number of postings continued to surge. Washington’s geographic share plummeted from 12.64% to 4.97% thanks to long-term hiring beyond the state and a recent, dramatic slowdown in Washington-based recruitment by Amazon and Microsoft. Three factors tend to drive a state’s share of AI job postings:
- the state’s size in terms of population and economy
- the state being home to the world’s leading AI universities and
- the state’s role as host to major AI-driven industries (e.g., CA: information services, semiconductors, biotech; NY: finance and media; and VA: defense and aerospace).
The Ascendance of Washington D.C. as AI Hotzone
A standout in this evolving narrative is the advent of the National Capital Region–encompassing Maryland, Washington D.C., and Virginia–as a burgeoning hub for AI opportunity. Surpassing New York in AI job postings, this region now stands as the second-largest AI job market in the country, trailing only California. This surge stems from the bullish embrace of AI technologies by various federal agencies, spearheaded by the Department of Defense. The region hosts many key players in defense tech and software services, including Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, and Accenture.
The AI Horizon
As the topography of AI labor demand continues to resettle, it sets the drumbeat for the adoption of AI across the economy: as we’ve noted before, the AI Revolution will begin with AI jobs. While strongholds like Silicon Valley are likely to hold the top tier, the emergence of new AI hotspots signals a hungrier and less risk-averse AI ecosystem, one set to foster innovation and drive economic growth on a national, and ultimately global, scale.