California and Arizona Are the US Language Industry’s Top Job Creators

In this third and final report in Slator’s US language industry series, we look at how the sector has performed on a state-level since 2008. We sourced the data from the US Census Bureau and drilled down into NAICS Code: 541930, which comprises all companies doing business in “Translation and Interpretation Services.” The Census Bureau published the data set in April 2017 with the latest available data being for 2015.

In our May 2017 article, we found that total headcount in the US language industry nearly doubled since 2008. In June 2017, we analysed the average annual payroll per employee and state and found that, in 2015, language industry employees based in New York were paid 56% more on average than their peers in California.

Company Growth

To find out more about how the industry fared across the individual US states between 2008 and 2015 (the years for which data was most readily available), we first looked at the change in the number of companies active in the language industry

California, by far the largest market in the US by almost any metric, saw the most new companies enter the industry since 2008. Between 2008 and 2015, the total number of language service providers (LSPs) in California grew by 111. Trailing California by a significant gap are Florida (41), Illinois (32), Texas (27), and Colorado (25).

Employment Growth

California is also #1 when measured by total number of jobs (+2,078) created between 2008 and 2015. In this category, however, California faced a strong contender for the number one position. Arizona, which also tops the the list of states with the most employees per company, added 2,070 jobs in the same period.

At the other end of the spectrum New York, Virginia, and to a lesser degree Missouri, South Carolina, New Jersey, and Hawaii, experienced a decline in total language industry employment. New York lost 368 language industry jobs over the period, and Virginia shed 253.

Trends in Average Payroll per Employee

The Census Bureau data allows to draw conclusions about average annual payroll by employee by dividing total payroll by the number of employees. While the data appears fairly accurate for larger states, it becomes somewhat noisy for states with only a handful of registered LSPs.

To get a sense of how language industry pay has evolved in the different US states between 2008 and 2015, we analyzed the data for all states which reported a total of 200 employees or more.

In Ohio, average payroll per employee skyrocketed from USD 25,800 in 2008 to USD 64,500 in 2015. However, this may be a statistical fluke since the average between 2009 and 2014 was USD 31,400.

Among the states with a large language industry that saw average compensation rise were Florida (+52.7%) and Texas (+10.1%). Conversely, average compensation in large language industry markets such as New York (-7%), California (-7.4%), and Arizona (-26.3%) actually went down between 2008 and 2015.

One conclusion from the dataset is that company formation and job creation is most active in the West of the United States (California, Texas, Arizona). In terms of compensation, the picture is more mixed. While California and Arizona continue to create jobs, annual average payroll per employee is trending lower in these two states as the market is becoming ever more competitive. Compensation in markets like New York, while still high in absolute terms, is also trending down.