High educational attainment and higher concentrations of young people are two key elements that top tech talent markets share.

Forty-five of the top 50 tech talent markets have a metro-level educational attainment rate above their national averages of 32.9% in the U.S. and 31.5% in Canada. The top 10 markets have 43% or more of residents over 25 years old with at least a bachelor's degree (Figure 6). Washington, D.C and the San Francisco Bay Area have rates of 51% or more.

Figure 6: Top 10 Markets for Educational Attainment (2020)

Source: U.S. Census Bureau (Metro) and Environs Analytics, May 2022.

Education, particularly with a focus on technology,3 is best analyzed through degrees issued by higher educational institutions. Metro areas that produced the most tech graduates in 2020 with bachelor’s or higher degrees were New York Metro, Los Angeles/Orange County, Boston, Washington, D.C. and the San Francisco Bay Area (Figure 7). Large tech talent markets dominate the top 10 degree-granting regions. Demand is high for tech-related classes and degrees, and tech-related degree completions have grown by 45% since 2016. Although these figures do not account for tech bootcamps or shorter certifications, they provide insight into which markets produce the most tech talent entering the labor pool each year.

Figure 7: Top 10 Markets for Tech Degree Completions

Source: The National Center for Education Statistics (Region), Canadian Universities, May 2022. Note: Bachelor's Degree or Higher.

3 Tech degree fields include computer engineering and information sciences; mathematics and statistics; electrical and electronics engineering; mechanical and industrial engineering; other engineering.

Many graduates do not stay in the market where they earn their degree; they often migrate to markets that offer the most job opportunities or have the best pay. Analyzing tech-related graduation data and tech-related employment growth identifies tech talent flow through the difference between where workers are employed and where they were educated (Figure 8). Tech degrees cover the most recent five-year period available (2016-2020) and tech talent jobs added cover the period when most graduates would be counted in employment figures (2017-2021). Toronto, Vancouver and Seattle were the standout markets for tech talent job creation, adding 59,588, 40,059 and 24,587 more tech talent jobs than graduates. Other top tech talent job creators were Quebec City, Montreal, Ottawa and Portland. The top education markets—those with more tech degree graduates than tech talent jobs—were New York Metro, Boston, Washington, D.C, Los Angeles/Orange County and Chicago.

Figure 8: Where Are Talent Workers Coming From and Where Are They Headed?

*Tech degrees cover the most recent five-year period available (2016-2020) and tech jobs added cover the time period reflecting when most graduates would be counted in employment figures (2017-2021).
Source: CBRE Research, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Center for Education Statistics (Metro), Canadian Universities, 2022.

There were more tech degree graduates and fewer new tech talent jobs during the most recent five-year period (2017-2021) compared with the previous one (2016-2020) in the top 50 markets, resulting in a larger net supply of graduates. Thirty-seven markets posted a five-year graduate surplus in 2021 compared with 34 in 2020, suggesting tech talent hiring has expanded well beyond the top 50 markets given the still tight labor market conditions. This may be attributable to increased remote work opportunities.

The most coveted skill among tech employers is software engineering. In the past year, 159,500 new software engineering jobs were created in the U.S. versus 177,000 university graduates specializing in the field. This is a tight ratio, since not all graduates with software engineering degrees choose a tech talent occupation.

Another notable characteristic of tech talent markets is the number and concentration of Gen Z (20- to 24-year-olds) and millennials (25- to 39-year-olds) in the workforce. Millennials are the largest demographic cohort in the workforce but the younger Gen Z will fuel future growth (Figures 9 and 10).

Figure 9: 20- to 24-Year-Old Population Change by Market, 2015-2020

Source: U.S. Census Bureau (Metro), Oxford Economics Canada (Metro), 2022.

Figure 10: 25- to 39-Year-Old Population Change by Market, 2015-2020

Source: U.S. Census Bureau (Metro), Oxford Economics Canada (Metro), 2022.

The most coveted skill among tech employers is software engineering. In the past year, 159,500 new software engineering jobs were created in the U.S. versus 177,000 university graduates specializing in the field.

Twenty tech markets have seen their millennial populations increase by more than 10% since 2015. Austin, Seattle, Toronto and Tampa grew the fastest of the large markets, all by 16% or more. Waterloo, Canada was the fastest growing market overall at 20%, followed by growth of more than 16% in two other small markets—Orlando and San Antonio. Waterloo was the only market with double-digit Gen Z population growth at 12.1%, followed by Edmonton, Ottawa and Calgary with 9% growth. Several large and highly concentrated university markets had declines in Gen Z population, including New York Metro, Los Angeles/Orange County, Baltimore, Pittsburgh and San Diego.

Austin, Seattle and Denver were the most concentrated millennial markets with about one-quarter of their population in this cohort, above the 20.5% U.S. national average (Figure 11). The highest concentration of Gen Z population was in Madison, Salt Lake City and Virginia Beach (Figure 12).

Figure 11: Top 10 Most Concentrated Markets for 25- to 39-Year-Olds (2020)

Source: U.S. Census Bureau (Metro) and Oxford Economics (Metro), 2022.

Figure 12: Top 10 Most Concentrated Markets for 20- to 24-Year-Olds (2020)

Source: U.S. Census Bureau (Metro) and Oxford Economics (Metro), 2022.

Gen Zers and millennials account for 48.6% of the U.S. tech talent workforce across all industries compared with 39.8% for general office-using industries (Figure 13). tech talent working within the tech industry has an even higher concentration of those two generations at 54.9%. Older workers (age 55 and up) represented 30% of the labor force for all office-using industries compared with 15.7% of tech talent working within the tech industry.

Figure 13: U.S. Workforce by Age for Selected Industries (2020)

Source: U.S. Census, IPUMS and CBRE Research, May 2022.

Tech clusters with high concentrations of tech talent distinguish the top markets. These clusters typically form around preeminent universities that tend to invest the most in innovation and provide a steady flow of new talent for local companies. Tech clusters also form around leading companies that draw other companies to a region and support an innovative ecosystem that spawns new entrepreneurs and companies. Tech companies use these clusters for synergy and competition, thereby accelerating the innovation process. These companies in the core high-tech industry are heavily concentrated, with about half of their workers doing tech-related jobs (Figure 14). Consequently, tech talent clusters tend to form in markets with a strong concentration of high-tech companies.

Figure 14: U.S. Tech Talent Workforce Concentration by Industry (2021)

*Includes computer software and services and computer product manufacturing; **Excluding High-Tech.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, April 2022.

Tech clusters with high concentrations of tech talent distinguish the top markets. These clusters typically form around preeminent universities that tend to invest the most in innovation and provide a steady flow of new talent for local companies.

Tech Talent Analyzer

Explore and compare markets to find the locations that best meet your tech talent needs

Related Services

Related Insights