Four industries dominate the modern New England economy: technology, academia, medicine, and finance—with tourism a close fifth. The area is second only to Silicon Valley in its concentration of technology firms, which tends to make booms bigger and recessions deeper than other parts of the country. The great number of colleges and universities in the area has spawned a cottage industry of professors and researchers, who have also contributed to the region’s status as a hub of medical innovation. In recent years, New England has become a hub of biotechnology and pharmaceutical firms, with Merck, AstraZeneca, and Novartis situating their worldwide research headquarters in the area. In a more traditional vein, the financial industry has always thrived with Yankee know-how. The mutual fund was invented in Boston , and there are probably more actuaries in Hartford  than any other city on earth.
In addition to these urban pursuits, the area still has substantial concentrations of farming (particularly dairy), fruit cultivation (cranberries, apples, blueberries) and fishing (whitefish and lobster). All these industries, however, are failing under competition from cheaper imports from other countries or overfishing of fragile stocks. Where there is hope for local farms, it lies in the burgeoning sectors of organic foods and community-supported agriculture, which are in high demand among health-conscious and environmentally aware New Englanders.