One of the primary drivers of growth in Seattle has been the tech expansion from companies such as Amazon, Facebook and Google who have been significantly scaling their operations and opened satellite offices throughout the region. Because of that, the Puget Sound region is one of the fastest growing economic areas in the country if not the world. Yet, in terms of tech, according to one study, while it sits squarely in the top ten group of technology markets in the country, it doesn’t quite make the top of the list.
The report titled Tech Cities 1.0 and compiled by global brokerage firm Cushman & Wakefield looked at the top 25 tech cities across the nation, and determined by a number of factors including talent, capital and growth opportunity a ranking of most technologically advanced markets. The research team placed Seattle 6th, just behind San Jose, San Francisco, Washington D.C., Boston and Raleigh-Durham.
“I think more than anything, I’m just surprised Seattle wasn’t up higher on the list based given the tech boom here,” said Matt Christian, executive director Cushman & Wakefield Commerce in Seattle.
I know there’s a shortage of talent everywhere, but Seattle so far has been able to keep up with supply
With world-renowned University of Washington as well as Seattle University and University of Puget Sound, Seattle has a well educated workforce and is at the forefront of top tech cities with the supply of talent. Of all of Seattle’s workforce, over 40 percent of people hold a bachelor’s degree or higher, which is more than 10 percentage points than the national average of 30 percent. The higher levels of education have been rewarded with jobs, as evidenced from January 2010 to January 2016, when 72.7 percent of jobs created during that time period went to people with a bachelor’s degree or higher, according to the report. Only 26.6 percent of those jobs went to people with an associate’s degree.
Yet the growth in the region is demanding more talented workers like those, and companies have been working hard to bring them to the region. “I know there’s a shortage of talent everywhere, but Seattle so far has been able to keep up with supply,” said Christian. “While Microsoft brought talent to the region for years, Amazon is now spending lots of money to bring people here from all over the globe, so because of that it’s an extremely competitive market for that talent,” he added.
In San Jose, the list’s stop city, tech makes up 27.4 percent of the workforce, nearly double San Francisco’s, the second placed city, which is just over 15 percent. Seattle’s tech workforce comes just under 10 percent of the labor force, however, this is still higher than the national average of six percent.
Christian noted that with tech giants continued growth in the Puget Sound region, the demand for technology labor will also continue to expand in Seattle in turn making it larger portion of the workfoce. “Several tech companies have satellite offices specifically in Seattle to draw from the deep pool of software engineering talent that is nurtured here like nowhere else in the country,” he added.
“There are dozens of businesses in the Bay Area that have been rapidly growing in Seattle,” Christian said. “Google started here with about 50,000 square feet, and today they’ve got two locations with about 300,000 square feet in each and just recently leased another 600,000 square foot of space in South Lake Union, so they’ve been extremely bullish on this market, and that’s just one of dozens.” Other technology firms such as Adobe, Cisco, Dropbox and Lyft have also grown in the region, but not nearly to the scale Google has grown.
And technology isn’t just leading employment in Seattle; it is becoming more widespread across the U.S. where the number of tech workers is expected to climb above 7 million for the first time in 2017, beating the previous record of 6.86 million in 2001.
“Basically every company today is a tech company in one way or another. We’re all using it, we’re using various aspects of tech companies to do various things,” said Ken McCarthy, Cushman & Wakefield’s New York-based Principal Economist and Applied Research Lead for the U.S. in a release. “Whether it’s Salesforce as customer relationship management, or Workday for HR, and various other database programs, the old way of doing business just doesn’t work anymore.”