Technology workers continue to flock to companies far away from Silicon Valley as fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic reshapes workplaces, labor markets and the economy, employers and industry analysts say.
Net tech employment in both Texas and Florida last year grew twice as fast as it did in California, including new software engineers, app developers and other tech workers entering the market, information-technology trade group CompTIA said in a report this week ahead of the Labor Department’s monthly jobs report Friday.
Key attractions include more affordable housing markets, a lower cost of living and a ready availability of schools and other services. At the same time, the adoption of remote and hybrid work models at many companies has made tech jobs 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, chief administration officer at Solera Holdings Inc., an automotive-software maker based in Westlake, Texas, said the company has been expanding its tech team over the past several years. With tight job markets elsewhere, Ms. Liao said, she has had no trouble filling 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 employment in Texas grew by 10,851 new jobs in 2021, more than any other state, followed by Florida 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.
Mr. Leeper said the company is “significantly increasing” its product and technology and IT organizations, “and we are attracting talent from more established tech players.”
Burger King, owned by Restaurant Brands International Inc. and based in Miami, 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. That includes tech veterans who have relocated from traditional hubs, like Silicon Valley and Seattle, with experience across large tech firms like Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Microsoft Corp. and Uber Technologies Inc., among others, the spokesman said.
While California remains home to the most tech workers in any one state—employing 1.4 million out of a nationwide total of 8.7 million—net tech employment last year grew by only 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 roughly 80,000 tech workers in 2021, up from 77,000 in 2020, according to the report. The gains reflect growing demand for technology services and infrastructure to support remote work, e-commerce or revamped supply chains in the wake of the disruption wrought by the Covid-19 pandemic, according to analysts.
Tim Herbert, CompTIA’s chief research officer, said that momentum is likely to strengthen this year, with U.S. employers adding 383,075 job postings for tech positions in March alone, up from 295,833 for the same month last year. “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 concentrated in a handful of metropolitan areas, led by Dallas; 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.
A report by the Brookings Institution earlier this month found similar trends in tech hiring beyond traditional hubs like San Francisco, Seattle and New York.
“Accelerated digitalization during the pandemic, combined with remote work, has meant more places have seen more tech-sector employment,” said Mark Muro, a senior fellow and policy director at Brookings. “What’s more, firms’ insatiable need for digital talent has motivated many coastal firms to hire in the interior or move satellite offices there,” Mr. Muro said.
Business software giant Oracle Corp. in 2020 began moving its entire corporate headquarters to Austin, while Meta Platforms Inc.’s Facebook and Alphabet’s Google have both set up regional offices there.
The Draper Hero Institute, a research firm led by Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Draper, last year identified both Texas and Florida, along with Washington, as the nation’s top three states to launch a tech startup. The rankings were based on a range of local factors that typically support startup ecosystems, such as regulatory, economic, investment and workforce trends.
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