A- A+

North American Tech Talent Hubs Poised for Growth After Holding Steady Through Pandemic, According to CBRE's Annual 'Scoring Tech Talent' Report

July 14, 2021

Dallas – July 13, 2021 – North American tech-talent employment weathered the pandemic better than most other professions due to demand for tech to facilitate continued remote work, robust e-commerce growth and streaming services. This resilience is setting the stage for strong tech job growth amid the economic recovery across established tech capitals like the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle and Toronto and emerging hubs such as Dayton, Huntsville and Colorado Springs, according to CBRE’s annual Scoring Tech Talent report.

The report, now in its ninth year, ranks the top 50 North American markets by analyzing 13 measures of their ability to attract and develop tech talent, including tech graduation rates, tech-job concentration, tech labor pool size, labor and real estate costs, and for the first time, diversity ratios.

CBRE also ranks the Next 25 emerging tech markets on a narrower set of criteria. Tech talent is defined as 20 key tech professions -- such as software engineers and systems and data managers – across all industries.

Tech occupations registered job growth of 0.8 percent in 2020 in the U.S. while non-tech occupations declined by 5.5 percent. Software engineers were the most in demand tech-job category last year, adding 85,000 U.S. jobs for a 4.8 percent growth rate from a year earlier. Beyond the tech industry itself, those that added tech workers last year include financial activities, professional & business services, and government.

“Many factors already are in place to fuel strong tech-talent job growth this year and beyond coming out of the pandemic,” said Todd Husak, Managing Director of CBRE’s Tech & Media Practice Group. “Big tech markets will gain from their established pipelines of tech graduates and many workers’ return to city centers. Smaller markets will reap benefits from their cost advantages in labor and real estate as well as the tech industry’s embrace of remote work for certain employees.”

Demographics & Diversity

The report examines each market’s performance across numerous demographic metrics including tech- degree completions (New York led with 20,576 in 2019), millennial population change (Seattle leads in percentage growth since 2014), tech labor concentration (Ottawa prevails with 11.6% of its job base in tech- talent professions) and net gain or loss of tech talent since 2015 (Toronto led with a gain of 54,762), among other measures.

CBRE added a new feature to this year’s report in analyzing the diversity of tech workforces and identifying underrepresented populations to pursue and develop. Overall, U.S. tech talent professions are predominantly White, Asian and male. Conversely, Hispanics, Blacks and women are underrepresented in tech talent ranks. CBRE found the most diverse tech-talent labor pools for underrepresented races and ethnicities compared with their local geographies are in Pittsburgh, Charlotte, Nashville, Atlanta and Rochester, N.Y. The most diverse tech-talent markets for women are Washington, D.C., Sacramento, Kansas City, Boston and Hartford.

“Progress continues to be slow in improving diversity within tech labor pools,” said Colin Yasukochi, Executive Director of CBRE’s Tech Insights Center and author of the Tech Talent report. “Increased hiring for purely remote jobs stands to help employers broaden their recruitment of tech talent to include more diverse populations in new markets.”

Market Rankings

In the overall Top 50 rankings for tech talent, the San Francisco Bay Area held onto the No. 1 ranking for the ninth consecutive year, followed by Seattle at No. 2 and Washington, D.C., at No. 3 in a swap of their year-earlier spots. Rounding out the top 5 this year are Toronto and the New York City metro area, respectively. The biggest climber in this year’s rankings is Greater Los Angeles/Orange County (No. 9), which rose by eight spots due to strong tech talent workforce growth. Detroit (No. 25) and Calgary (No. 28)

each rose by six spots due to incremental scoring gains related to gains in tech-degree graduates and forecasted tech job growth.

Top Overall North American Tech Markets

2021 Rank Market Score 2021 Rank Market Score 1 Bay Area 86.40 6 Boston 62.60 2 Seattle 73.16 7 Austin 58.87 3 Washington, DC 65.60 8 Atlanta 57.78 4 Toronto 64.78 9 LA/Orange Co. 57.62 5 New York Metro 63.44 10 Ottawa 57.34

Top Emerging North American Tech Markets

 2021 Rank
 Market  Score  2021 Rank
 Market  Score
 1  Bay Area
 86.40  6  Boston  62.60
 2  Seattle  73.16  7  Austin  58.87
 3  Washington, DC
 65.60  8  Atlanta  57.78
 4  Toronto  64.78  9  LA/Orange Co.
 5  New York Metro
 63.44  10  Ottawa  57.34


CBRE ranks its Next 25 up-and-coming markets based on a narrower range of nine metrics. Many of the Next 25 are concentrated in the Midwest and South. These markets could see additional tech-talent hiring as companies adopt fully remote work for some professions. To wit, 12 percent of job postings from tech employers in the 12 months ended in February allowed for remote-work arrangements, up from 5 percent in the previous year, according to labor-analytics firm EMSI.

 Rank  Market  Tech Talent Total (2020)
 Tech Talent Growth (5 yrs)
 Rank  Market  Tech Talent Total (2020)
 Tech Talent Growth (5 yrs)
 1  Dayton  18,930  31%  6  Albany  18,840  3%
 2  Huntsville  20,540  9%  7  Halifax  14,700  24%
 3  Colo. Springs
 21%  8  Providence  17,160  -3%
 4  Omaha  22,600  17%  9  Tucson  15,850  47%
 5  Des Moines
 18,320  43%  10  London, Ontario
 13,500  67%


For the second year, CBRE studied Latin American tech-talent markets to produce a list of the top 10, led by Sao Paolo, Brazil; Mexico City; and Santiago, Chile.

Real Estate Considerations

CBRE examined real estate costs and wages across markets to identify the most affordable, most expensive and the best bargains for cost vs. labor quality. The most expensive market in the top 50 for a 500-person tech company leasing 75,000 sq. ft. is the San Francisco Bay Area at nearly $69 million a year in combined labor and real estate costs. The least expensive in the top 50 is the Waterloo region in Ontario, Canada, at $31.4 million a year.

For office asking rents, the most expensive market in the top 50 is New York at $77.25 per sq. ft. per year. The least expensive: Cleveland at $18.70. Just as telling for tech employers is the ratio of a market’s average annual apartment rent as a percentage of its average tech wage. New York (26.3 percent) and Los Angeles/Orange County (24.2 percent) are most expensive while Quebec City (12.3 percent) and Cleveland (12.7 percent) are the least.

To download the report, click here.

About CBRE Group, Inc.

CBRE Group, Inc. (NYSE: CBRE), a Fortune 500 and S&P 500 company headquartered in Dallas, is the world’s largest commercial real estate services and investment firm (based on 2020 revenue). The company has more than 100,000 employees serving clients in more than 100 countries. CBRE serves a diverse range of clients with an integrated suite of services, including facilities, transaction and project management; property management; investment management; appraisal and valuation; property leasing; strategic consulting; property sales; mortgage services and development services. Please visit our website at www.cbre.com.