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The Analyst

There are about 6.3 million highly skilled tech workers across the U.S. and Canada that are leading global innovation. This subset of 20 technical occupations is known as “Tech Talent” and these professionals are the ones that have made it possible for us to remain productive during our crash course this year in remote working. CBRE’s Scoring Tech Talent report analyzes this labor pool and ranks 50 markets on their comparative advantage to make data-driven decisions for hiring and real estate.

Number of Tech Graduates Trails Demand for Highly Skilled Workers  

There has been a solid decade of growing demand for tech talent across all industries and this increase in hiring reduced any slack there may have been in employment and resulted in significantly higher labor costs. Demand for these skills has outpaced the quantity of tech graduates and although there are more them than ever before, demand was insatiable through 2019. Tech talent is one of the most resilient professions in any economic downturn, and this has been demonstrated during the COVID-19 pandemic by facilitating business productivity and supporting critical infrastructure. 

While the latest data available is just year-end 2019, we can look to the performance during past economic downturns for evidence of tech talent’s resilience. During the dot-com bust (2000-2002), society was in an early-internet tech wave and tech talent jobs were more resilient than the overall tech industry. Tech talent employment declined by 6.3% while the technology software and services industry cut 13.9% of their workforce. More recently during the Great Recession (2008-2010), tech talent employment declined by 0.5% compared with -5.5% for total U.S. employment and -1.7% for the technology software and services industry. Businesses and individuals are now more reliant and interconnected with our devices and productivity tools than ever before. This rising importance of technological innovation should reward tech talent professionals over the long term.

Coastal Cities Dominate in Tech Talent – Smaller Markets Seeing Growing Demand

As companies across all industries expand their technology services, demand for tech talent is high in both large and small markets. All markets are rescored every year based on their comparative advantage in 13 metrics. The top three markets for tech talent this year are the San Francisco Bay Area, Washington, D. C. and Seattle. Washington, D.C. moved up two spots this year from #4 to #2 and Seattle dropped one spot to #3.  Major gateway markets such as New York, Toronto and the San Francisco Bay Area dominate overall tech talent growth because of their size but smaller markets are also experiencing demand for tech talent from start-ups and established companies. Both large and small markets have their advantages: While large markets generally have a deeper pool of talent, small markets typically offer business and cost-of-living savings. 

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