Austin outranks Boston, Atlanta and Denver as best tech city


AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin now outranks bigger cities like Boston, Atlanta and Denver when it comes to being one of the best tech markets in North America. 

CBRE’s Scoring Tech Talent report released Tuesday put Austin at #6 with a score of 60.17.

The analysis looked at various factors like the number of tech jobs, growth in the industry, tech talent pool, education levels and affordability.

The top five cities were San Francisco, Seattle, Washington D.C., Toronto and New York. Behind Austin were Boston, Raleigh, Atlanta and Denver. 

According to CBRE, there are about 70,000 tech jobs in the Austin area. Their average salary is $94,954. 

“Austin is no longer in our small category anymore,” said Spencer Levy, an economist at CBRE. “It is now one of the rising stars. It’s in the same category, the same discussion as San Francisco, Seattle, Raleigh.”

Levy said Austin attracts a lot of people because of its quality and cost of living. 

“This live-work-play angle is probably the single most important thing you can do,” he said. 

Levy explained more people moving here does drive up rent prices, but he said, “while it does make it more expensive, it also creates a dynamism, with new jobs and new money, which benefits everybody.”

Founder and CEO of Worksmith, Bryan Burkhart, started his company in Austin about 3.5 years ago. 

He told KXAN he recently read about a startup in New York City that’s renting for $95 per square foot. According to the Downtown Austin Alliance, downtown Austin’s average rental rate is about $48 per square foot.

Burkhart moved to Austin from operating startups in San Francisco and New York.

He told KXAN being in Austin makes it easier to recruit new employees.

“The weather, the cost of living, the number of activities that are here and accessibility of all those activities,” he said.

“A year ago, we were less than 10 people. Today we are 30. By the end of the year we’ll be 50,” Burkhart explained. “Half of our employees, so we have 30 folks on the team today, half of them moved here to join Worksmith from the northeast, the Bay area and southern California.”

CBRE’s report found Austin is producing a healthy number of graduates who’re qualified to work in the booming industry. The city’s talent pool grew by 20 percent over the last 5 years, adding 12,000 employees to the tech industry. 

But still, that’s not enough to keep up with the demand of fast-growing startups like Worksmith.

“Austin is a net brain gain market, meaning it’s drawing people in from outside the market because it has to, because it has not enough tech graduates,” said Levy. “That is one of the greatest strengths of Austin, having this inflow of people that are making it a more dynamic market.”

Levy said if this keeps up, Austin could climb even higher in the rankings.

“There are very few markets in the running to be the next Seattle, but I believe Austin is it,” he said. “It’ll take some time simply because it’s not as large as Seattle, but it has all the elements to take your market all the way to the top.”

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