Pittsburgh’s heralded livability is likely a boon for the tech industry, too.
Commercial real estate and investment firm CBRE released its 2022 Scoring Tech Talent Report, an analysis of the quality of tech markets, the industry’s demographics, and advantages for tech workers and employees. According to the numbers, Pittsburgh’s tech industry can boast another year of progress as it climbs the ranks as a growing hub both for workers and tech companies.
While 2021’s report ranked the Steel City 29th out of 50 top markets across the United States and Canada, Pittsburgh made strides by securing the 26th spot on the list. And though fellow Pennsylvania city Philadelphia kept a comfortable four-spot lead in terms of rankings, the two share being among the markets that moved up the most in rank since last year.
The Pittsburgh market is the largest among small tech markets, with its 43,910 tech jobs accounting for 4.2% of the metro’s total 2021 employment. Between 2016 and 2021, industry employment rose by 2%, adding 960 new tech workers. Also during that time period, the city’s universities produced 25,300 tech degree graduates.
CBRE SVP Randy McCombs told Technical.ly that Pittsburgh’s progress can be attributed to the talent being fostered at local universities such as Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh. The city’s affordability, too, is part of what attracts potential workers to the city.
“You can actually afford to go out and enjoy these things based upon the low cost of living here, and still work for some great companies and be highly challenged in your daily work,” McCombs said. “So I think it’s just a great value proposition for any employee.”
Currently Pittsburgh remains one of most affordable places to set up shop — as we’ve seen tech giants such as DoorDash and Sheetz do in recent months — in terms of operating expenses. The estimated cost of running a tech company with up to 500 employees in the city is $42.5 million per year, which makes Pittsburgh the 20th most affordable city on the list. The city was also ranked the 21st in terms of affordable living among the largest tech markets, with average rent costs taking up 17.3% of the average tech worker’s wages.
McCombs believes that affordability would continue attracting companies as well as their prospective employees who want a city experience without the high prices that typically go with it.
“Companies are drawn to Pittsburgh’s relative lower cost of doing business,” McCombs said. “These factors, combined with a lower cost of living, and an abundance of cultural, music and sports teams, make Pittsburgh an attractive location for the tech community to call home.”
Although Pittsburgh saw plenty of gains, the city wasn’t immune to losses in this year’s report: While the city’s been attracting millennials through the years, the report found that between 2015 and 2020, the city’s tech talent market lost members of Gen Z. While CBRE wasn’t entirely sure about the reasons behind the decline of 20-somethings between the universities, affordable housing and accessible cost of doing business, McCombs feels reasonably confident that Pittsburgh’s tech industry will continue growing.
“We’re graduating approximately 24,000 more graduates in the tech area than we’re actually hiring right now,” McCombs said. “So I think any company coming here will feel good about the ability to attract, retain and grow their business.”Atiya Irvin-Mitchell is a 2022-2023 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Heinz Endowments.
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