In San Jose, the unofficial capital of Silicon Valley, technology companies employ more than 300,000 people–practically a third of the populace. The city generates 30 percent more patents than its closest competitor (Boise, Idaho, home to Micron) and receives more than a third of the nation’s venture capital: $5 billion. Headquartered in Silicon Valley are Google, eBay and Cisco Systems; the world’s leading biotech company, Genentech, is up the road. The area also boasts five top research centers, including SRI International and Stanford University–institutions that spawn high-tech start-ups almost reflexively.

Google began as a Stanford spin-off. Indeed, Stanford researchers have founded more than 1,200 tech companies to date, including117 biomedical companies (23 of them launched just last year). Long known for semiconductors and software, San Jose is quickly shifting to biotech, thanks in part to the state’s Proposition 71, which grants $3 billion to stem-cell research.

The average San Jose salary, $62,400, is 60 percent higher than the national average. But to earn it, people work really, really hard. Employee productivity–the value a company derives from each worker–is at $180,000 in the valley; the national average is $87,000. “When your average co-worker is probably in the top 5 percent of the most intelligent people in the nation,” says molecular geneticist Wendy Mahler, a local biotech consultant, “it definitely makes you kick it up a notch.”


Overall rank: 17
Number of high-tech companies: 7,300
Percent of workers in high-tech fields: 33
Percent with advanced degrees: 17


2. Orange, CA
3. Gainesville, FL
4. Boulder, CO
5. Madison, WI
6. Oakland, CA
7. Washington, DC
8. Nashua, NH
9. Raleigh, NC
10. Santa fe, NM