Florida & Texas lead nation in tech job gains, surpassing California

Tech Job — Courtesy: Shutterstock — Indypendenz

Tech workers continue to move far away from Silicon Valley as the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic reshapes labor markets, workplaces, and the industry, economy, and employers, analysts say.

Net tech employment in both Florida and Texas grew twice as fast as it did in California last year. This includes app developers, new software engineers, and other tech workers entering the market, according to information-technology trade group CompTIA

Key attractions include a lower cost of living, more affordable housing markets, and strong availability of schools and other services. In addition, the adoption of hybrid and remote work models at many companies has made tech jobs much more portable.

“There’s been a boom in tech jobs and it’s booming more outside California,” said Richard Florida, a professor at the University of Toronto’s School of Cities and Rotman School of Management.

Jing Liao, the chief administration officer at Solera Holdings Inc., an automotive-software maker based in Westlake, Texas, said the company has been working hard to expand its tech team over the past few years. With tight job markets elsewhere, she has been able to fill tech positions from a growing pool of local skilled workers.

“We have found that Texas also has great school systems and has been producing more technology talent,” she added.

Tech job employment in Texas grew by 10,851 new jobs in 2021, surpassing any other state, and was followed by the Sunshine State with 10,522, CompTIA said.

“Most of our recent hires live in Florida or Texas, two states that have experienced significant migration growth as a result of the pandemic,” said Terry Leeper, executive vice president and chief technology officer at Boca Raton, Fla.-based ODP Corp., the parent company of retailer Office Depot.

The company is “significantly increasing” its product, technology, and IT organizations, “and we are attracting talent from more established tech players,” said Mr. Leeper.

Burger King, based in Miami and owned by Restaurant Brands International Inc., has hired a “large talent pool of engineers, product managers, designers and other tech-centric roles in the Miami area,” according to a company spokesman. The hires include tech veterans who have flocked from traditional hubs, like Seattle and Silicon Valley, with experience across large tech firms like Microsoft Corp., Alphabet Inc.’s Google, and Uber Technologies Inc., among others.

While California reigns supreme in being home to the most tech workers in any one state—employing 1.4 million out of a nationwide total of 8.7 million people—net tech employment in 2021 only grew by 5,165 new workers, less than two hundred more than North Carolina, CompTIA said. 

“California is a very difficult market to hire in right now, especially in tech,” said Megan Slabinski, a district president at recruiting firm Robert Half International Inc. “The cost of living is extremely high and there is tremendous competition from the tech giants located in Northern California, specifically the Bay Area,” Ms. Slabinski said.

U.S. employers across the country hired about 80,000 tech workers in 2021, up from 77,000 in 2020, according to the report. These gains reflect the fast-growing demand for technology services and infrastructure to support e-commerce, remote work, and revamped supply chains in the wake of the pandemic’s disruption. 

Tim Herbert, CompTIA’s chief research officer, said that momentum is expected to strengthen in 2022, with U.S. employers adding 383,075 job postings for tech positions in March alone. This is up from 295,833 in March of 2021. “Generally, strong job posting volumes equate to a strong job market and hiring,” Mr. Herbert said about expected gains this month.

Much of the job growth tracked by CompTIA has been specifically concentrated in a handful of metropolitan areas, led by Dallas and Austin, Texas, and Miami. “An innovative graduate student or startup that may have previously felt the need to relocate to Silicon Valley may now feel confident to launch and grow their tech business in any number of metro areas,” Mr. Herbert said.

The Draper Hero Institute, a research firm led by Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Draper, identified both Florida and Texas, along with Washington, as the nation’s top three states to launch a tech startup company. The rankings were based on several local factors that typically support startup endeavors, such as economic, regulatory, investment, and workforce trends. 

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