Strong Demand for Tech Services During Pandemic Reinforces Resilience, Importance of San Francisco Bay Area and other Top Tech-Talent Hubs

15 Jul 2020

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Demand for many tech enabled services from San Francisco Bay Area-based firms has grown during the COVID-19 pandemic as staying and working from home became a necessity. The resiliency of tech talent across North America is helping society keep functioning amid economic tremors and signaling that the pandemic is unlikely to derail the growing importance of tech-talent hubs like the San Francisco Bay Area, which once again topped the list on CBRE’s annual Scoring Tech Talent report.

The Bay Area ranked No. 1 among U.S. markets for tech talent concentration—the percentage of total employment—which is an influential factor in how “tech-centric” the market is and its growth potential. Tech talent comprises 10.5% of total employment in the Bay Area – nearly three times the 3.7% national average. 

“San Francisco’s tech talent landscape is truly unique. No other U.S. city has the same concentration of future-thinking innovators actively identifying and solving the world’s problems, one company at a time. These founders have revolutionary insights, unmatched value propositions, breakthrough growth strategies and enviable team capabilities. When we are in the midst of unprecedented challenges like COVID-19, the great minds of the Bay Area are a stronger asset than ever,” said Dan Harvey, Vice Chairman with CBRE’s Tech & Media Practice in San Francisco. 

Tech-talent occupations are more resilient than most others because employers are reluctant to let go of coveted tech skills when both tech talent and tech services are in high demand. Tech talent employment has shown it can withstand economic shocks: In the 2008-2010 recession, tech-talent employment declined by 0.5% while overall U.S. employment registered a 5.5% drop.

“Tech-talent workers are the ones that have made it possible for us to remain productive during our crash course this year in remote working,” said Lexi Russell, CBRE Director of Research & Analysis and co-author of Scoring Tech Talent.  

CBRE defines tech talent as 20 tech-focused occupations found in all industry sectors, including software developers, programmers, and computer and information system managers. CBRE ranks the top 50 markets in its annual Tech Talent Scorecard by assessing 13 metrics on a weighted basis, including tech-talent supply, concentration, cost, completed tech degrees and real estate costs.

CBRE’s annual ranking of the top 50 tech-talent markets in the U.S. and Canada is led for the eighth year by the San Francisco Bay Area. 

 

2020 Rank

Market

Score

Change

2020 Rank

Market

Score

Change

1

SF Bay Area

82.56

NC

6

Austin

60.30

NC

2

Washington, D.C.

67.39

+2

7

Denver

59.89

+1

3

Seattle

66.36

-1

8

Boston

59.61

-1

4

Toronto

64.34

-1

9

Atlanta

58.78

NC

5

New York

64.01

NC

10

Raleigh-Durham, N.C.

56.29

NC


NC = No change in ranking from 2019 to 2020.

 

The San Francisco Bay Area stood out in the report in a number of other key areas:

  • The Bay Area is home to North America’s largest pool of tech talent (379,670), representing a 30.5% growth rate over the past five years. 
  • The region also leads the pack in “brain gain”—the Bay Area has added 52,000 more tech talent jobs than graduates over the last five years.
  • In terms of cost, the Bay Area has the highest average tech talent salary (nearly $136,000 per year), which boosts the attractiveness to employees. The region has the second highest average office rent. Combined, these position the region as the most expensive market for operating a 500-person tech company, with an estimated annual cost of $62 million. The least expensive in the top 50 tech-talent markets: Montreal at $29.6 million. 

 

“We expect that most tech-talent hubs and professions will thrive after the pandemic subsides, and many that facilitate remote work, ecommerce, social media and streaming services may have even greater growth opportunities accelerated by the COVID-19 disruption,” said Colin Yasukochi, Executive Director of CBRE’s Tech Insights Center. “Markets that have strong innovation infrastructure – leading universities and high concentrations of tech jobs - will lead the next growth cycle.”

View the full report here. To view individual market statistics and rankings, including rankings on the Scorecard, access CBRE’s Tech Talent Analyzer.

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 2021 revenue). The company has more than 105,000 employees (excluding Turner & Townsend 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.