Seattle Stands Out for Quality of Tech Labor and Relative Affordability, Lands at No. 3 on CBRE’s Annual ‘Scoring Tech Talent’ Report

15 Jul 2020


Seattle ranks No. 3 on CBRE’s Tech Talent Scorecard, part of its annual Scoring Tech Talent Report, which ranks 50 North American markets according to their ability to attract and grow tech talent. 

Seattle again ranked first for tech labor quality, as measured by the concentration of software engineers/developers with 3+ years of experience that have earned degrees from the top computer information science programs. 

“Seattle has a deep bench of high quality tech labor, driven by the growth of blue chip technology firms and cloud computing as well as Seattle’s emerging leadership in artificial intelligence. While all cities will experience some pain in the wake of COVID-19, the Puget Sound region is poised to fare better than most due to a smaller presence of startups and venture capital-backed companies, which are deemed more vulnerable to recession. Seattle’s advantages over other leading tech markets—including our quality of life, presence of technical colleges and universities, and relative affordability—will transcend this pandemic and continue to fuel future growth,” said Michael Dash, Vice Chairman with CBRE in Seattle. 

Seattle’s tech-talent labor pool is the eighth largest nationally at 155,330 workers, which amounts to 7.7% of the overall Seattle workforce. This places Seattle among the five most-tech-concentrated markets in North America—more than double the national average of 3.7 %.

The San Francisco Bay Area again led the overall rankings in 2020. Seattle, which placed second in 2019, was bumped to third by Washington DC, which moved up two spots. 

The report outlines how tech-talent jobs are positioned to weather COVID-19 and related shutdowns and the ensuing recession because, more than ever, companies across all industries need the technical skills that this talent base offers. Many tech products and services such as streaming, remote communications and social media now are in higher demand to support remote work and social distancing. Tech 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.

CBRE’s Tech Talent Scorecard is determined based on 13 unique metrics, including tech talent supply, growth, concentration, cost, completed tech degrees, industry outlook for job growth, and market outlook for both office and apartment rent cost growth.

“We expect that most tech-talent markets and professions will thrive after the pandemic subsides, and many that facilitate remote work and tech services such as e-commerce, 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.”


Seattle stood out in the report in a number of other key areas:

  • Seattle retained the top ranking for educational attainment with 65% of residents over age 25 holding a bachelor’s degree or higher (compared to a U.S. average of 32.6%).
  • The millennial population aged 22 to 36 increased by 26.9% since 2013, the second highest growth among tech markets (following only the SF Bay Area).
  • Seattle’s average tech wage ($119,170) is second-highest in North America and its average office rent is the sixth most expensive among top tech markets.
  • Seattle also stands out as a top tech job creator. The market ranked fourth for “brain gain,” meaning it added 11,739 more tech jobs than tech graduates over the past five years.


Top 10 tech talent markets: 

RANK (2020)




SF Bay Area, CA



Washington, D.C.



Seattle, WA



Toronto, ON



New York, NY



Austin, TX



Denver, CO



Boston, MA



Atlanta, GA



Raleigh-Durham, NC



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

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