Austin’s tech reputation could heat up following COVID-19 pandemic

Austin remains # 6 in an annual report that measures the ability of 50 North American markets to attract and retain technical talent. However, if an expert’s prediction is met, Austin could climb up next year thanks to an explosion in remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In other words, Austin’s Silicon Hills could invade the Silicon Valley lawn even more.

In this year’s Scoring Tech Talent Report by commercial real estate services company CBRE, Austin ranks # 1 behind the San Francisco Bay Area (including Silicon Valley), followed by Washington, DC, # 2; Seattle at No. 3; Toronto at No. 4; and New York City at No. 5.

To compile the ranking, CBRE examined 13 metrics, including supply, growth and cost of tech talent. the prospects for employment growth in the technology industry; and the forecast for rental growth in the apartment and office sector.

Austin is well positioned for growth as a technology hub, according to Erin Morales, senior vice president of CBRE. Does that mean Austin could become an even bigger challenger for the San Francisco Bay Area?

“With a strong, steadily growing workforce of tech talent and lower overall living and business costs, Austin could be a beneficiary market for pandemic recovery as many tech adopters seek to get out of more populated areas like New York City or San Francisco,” Morales said in one Press release from July 15th.

“We know that a large number of technology companies are giving their employees the option to work remotely for the time being,” adds Morales. “With an office in Austin, technology firms still have a central hub in a very desirable marketplace with access to high-quality talent and a live, work-play lifestyle that helps with recruitment and retention.”

A recent example of this trend: CBRE has signed a contract with the software company FileTrail Inc. to move its headquarters from San Jose, California to Austin. FileTrail’s move is just one indicator that Austin – already home to tech giants like Apple, Facebook and Google – will become the “next Silicon Valley” as technicians and employers look for a cheaper place to settle down.

Here are some of the highlights on the CBRE certificate:

  • Austin has the seventh largest pool of technical talent in the United States. 76,270 technical employees make up 7.1 percent of the workforce in the region. The national average is below 4 percent.

  • The total cost of ownership for businesses in Austin remains relatively low. The city ranks 16th in the United States for an estimated annual cost of ownership for a technology company.

  • The quality of the technical workforce in Austin is considered high, but the total labor cost is well below a number of other markets such as Seattle and Washington, DC

  • Austin has the fifth highest concentration of millennials, making up 29.6 percent of the area’s population.

  • Austin offers a relatively low cost of living for technicians with an average home rent of 16.5 percent of the average technology wage. For comparison: In the San Francisco Bay Area it is 43.9 percent and in New York 25.4 percent.

  • With 54.1 percent, Austin is one of the top markets for the proportion of people over the age of 25 with at least a bachelor’s degree. The national average is 32.6 percent.

“We anticipate that most markets and jobs for tech talent will thrive after the pandemic ends, and many that enable remote working and tech services like e-commerce, social media and streaming services may have even greater growth opportunities, which are accelerated by the COVID. 19 disruptions, ”says Colin Yasukochi, managing director of CBRE’s Tech Insights Center. “Markets with a strong innovation infrastructure – leading universities and a high concentration of technical jobs – will lead the next cycle of growth.”

Dallas-Fort Worth, the other Texan market in the top 20, ranks fifth in sheer number of technicians (179,570), with the San Francisco Bay Area taking first place (379,670). It also ranks sixth for millennial population growth among major technology markets (19.2 percent) from 2014 to 2018 and eighth for the number of technology degrees completed in 2018 (6,840).

After Austin, Denver ranks 7th, Boston 8th, Atlanta 9th and Raleigh-Durham 10th. Elsewhere in Texas, Dallas-Fort Worth ranks 13th, Houston 36th and San Antonio 47th .

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