Seattle lands No. 2 spot as best North America market for tech talent

Originally published:
Cassidy Ritter

A new report ranked Seattle as the No. 2 market in North America for tech talent, placing the city in the same spot it was last year.

This ranking from CBRE’s Scoring Tech Talent report looks at the top 50 North American markets and their ability to attract and develop tech talent. It ranks cities based on 13 metrics, such as labor market conditions, concentration of tech jobs and graduation rates.

Tech talent, which makes up more than 20 occupations such as data managers and software developers, has grown in the U.S. by 11.4% or 610,000 employees since 2020.

In the Puget Sound region, tech jobs increased 29% between 2017 and 2022, according to the report, adding 44,020 jobs to the local economy. The majority of the local tech talent works in the tech industry (63.4%). The next largest industry for tech talent is manufacturing (7.1%).

Seattle remains a top-tier hub for innovation due to the area’s depth of talent, according to CBRE.

The number of regional residents in their 20s with college degrees grew by 11.8% between 2016 and 2021, according to the report, placing it in the middle of the pack among large tech talent markets. The number of area residents in their 30s with college degrees increased much faster — by 30% — during this same five-year period.

People in their 30s are the largest workforce demographic overall while workers in their 20s serve as a “major” source of innovation, Nicholas Weld, first vice president of CBRE’s tech and media practice in Denver, said in a statement.

Seattle also ranked high on the list for its average annual wage. Coming in at No. 2 behind the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle’s average annual wage for tech employees employed by tech companies is $172,009, as of 2021. The average annual wage for tech employees in the Seattle metro across all industries is $123,625, according to 2022 data.

CBRE also looked at Seattle’s cost of living. The report estimated that the city’s rent-to-tech wage ratio is 20.5%, meaning it is more affordable for tech workers to live in Seattle than in other West Coast markets such as the Bay Area, Los Angeles, San Diego or even Portland (by a smidge).

Seattle, however, ranked as the third most expensive market for tech businesses to operate. When factoring average wages and real estate, companies with 500 employees and a 60,000-square-foot office will spend an estimated $62 million a year.