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Austin's unstoppable tech sector explodes with 10,000 new jobs in just 2 years

Austin's tech sector explodes with 10,000 new jobs in just 2 years

Downtown Austin
The tech sector now accounts for $9.2 billion of Austin's income. Courtesy photo

A new report highlights the seemingly nonstop surge in Austin’s tech workforce, with the number of tech jobs rising more than 20 percent over a two-year span.

The report, produced by commercial real estate services company CBRE, shows employment in Austin’s tech sector soared 22.5 percent in 2017 and 2018. That growth accounted for 10,517 new jobs during this period, or 60.4 percent of all new office jobs in Austin. Only San Francisco (24.7 percent) and Seattle (23.7 percent) bested Austin for growth of tech jobs over those two years, the report says.

According to an August 2019 report from the Austin Chamber of Commerce, more than 7,200 employers in the region operate in the tech sector. Tech jobs in the Austin metro area represent 15.8 percent of all jobs, compared with 8.7 percent nationally. Meanwhile, the region’s payroll in the tech industry last year ($9.2 billion) made up nearly one-third of the area’s entire payroll, the report says.

“Austin has solidified itself as a smaller, nimbler equivalent to traditional tech markets,” Erin Morales, senior vice president in the Austin office of CBRE, says in a November 18 release. “Companies recognize the value of tech talent that Austin has and is able to attract, which is the driving factor for the strong job growth … we see year over year.”

While West Coast tech companies like Apple, Facebook, and Google continue to expand into Austin because of its favorable business costs and high-quality talent, CBRE says traffic hassles and increasing expenses are prompting some downtown office tenants to consider locating outside the Central Business District.

A recent analysis published October 31 by the World Economic Forum found that the number of tech jobs in the U.S. is sprouting faster in areas with 1 million to 3 million residents — like Austin; Salt Lake City; and Raleigh, North Carolina — than in mega-cities such as New York City and San Francisco.

Smaller cities “have the winning combination of lower costs, great amenities, and top-ranked universities that provide the necessary workforce and incubators,” the World Economic Forum notes.

As you might expect, tech salaries in Austin are growing in tandem with the region’s tech workforce.

According to a report published in June by job website, the average tech salary in Austin jumped 6 percent in 2018 to $125,000 compared with 2017. That tied Austin with Washington, D.C., among major U.S. markets; only Boston saw a bigger boost in the average tech salary (9 percent). By comparison, the average tech salary went up 2 percent in the San Francisco Bay Area and 5 percent in Seattle.

Even more illuminating is how much further a tech worker’s pay goes in Austin versus the Bay Area.

For the third year in a row, Austin topped’s list of cities with the highest average tech salary when adjusted for the cost of living in San Francisco. In Austin, the Bay Area-adjusted salary was $208,000. That means a tech worker in Austin would need an $83,000 raise to maintain their current standard of living in San Francisco.

In light of that data, it’s no surprise that tech workers surveyed by cited Austin as their top relocation destination in the U.S., behind Seattle and Denver.