Seattle is the second strongest tech market in the U.S. and Canada, thanks to its growing population of young, brainy geeks, according to a new study.
Real estate firm CBRE released its annual Scoring Tech Talent report Tuesday, which ranks the top 50 markets based on 13 metrics like number of tech employees, population trends, wages, education levels, housing and business costs. Seattle led the way in terms of the highest percentage of people with a college degree — 63 percent — as well as the greatest population growth of 20 somethings since 2011 at close to 23 percent.
Seattle trailed only San Francisco in the overall rankings and finished ahead of Washington, D.C., Toronto and New York to round out the top five. Toronto, ranked fourth in the report, is having a moment thanks to its huge base of tech talent, which has added more prospects than any other market in the last few years.
The numbers show that a lot of Seattle’s talent is coming from elsewhere as the number of new jobs outpace graduates from the region’s universities. Seattle was fourth among markets in terms of “brain gain,” meaning that the city draws in more talented folks than it loses. But Seattle ranked only 20th in the number of tech degrees obtained, and the number of startups as well as money raised by entrepreneurs coming out of the University of Washington pales in comparison to top universities in places like Boston, New York and D.C.
As of last year, the Seattle tech market employed 145,140 people, a 19 percent increase over the last six years. These workers brought home a robust $117,259 on average, second only to San Francisco among tech wages.
Tech jobs represent close to 9 percent of total employment in Seattle. Despite Seattle’s status as a top-tier tech hub, non-tech roles are actually growing at a faster pace — 29 percent to 19 percent — over the last six years.
Seattle’s tech bonanza has come from both homegrown companies like Amazon and Microsoft and big out-of-town companies like Facebook and Google. The report gives a window into how much the more than 100 companies that have set up satellite offices in Seattle are paying. While Seattle struggles with high housing and business costs, it is actually a cheaper place to live and do business than some of its peer cities at the top tier of the market.
Between wages and office rent, CBRE estimates that setting up a 75,000-square-foot office in Seattle with room for 500 employees would cost a company about $51.5 million. In San Francisco that same office would cost $7 million more per year for a total cost of $59 million, but in Toronto a company would only spend $30 million.
While Seattle has the second highest wages for tech employees, its office rents, at a little above $34 per square foot, are about half the cost of other big markets like New York and San Francisco.
Despite being the hottest housing market in the nation in terms of for-sale housing, techies in Seattle actually spend a lower percentage of their income on rent than the other top markets. Seattle tech workers spend 17.5 percent of their salaries on rent versus 43 percent for New Yorkers, 28 percent for San Francisco residents and 19 percent in D.C.
The report also shows the ongoing diversity problems in the tech industry. Among the top 50 ranked cities, not a single market had a talent pool that was more than 30 percent female. At 78 percent male, Seattle had one of the widest gender gaps among tech employees, behind only Montreal, Dallas and Jacksonville, Fla.