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Pittsburgh’s national tech talent ranking shifted, again, as workforce counts dip

The city dropped to #30 on CBRE's 2023 Scoring Tech Talent Report, but it remains an attractive place to do business because of its talent pool and affordability, VP Michael Stuart said.

Pittsburgh in the dark. ( Zeglen)

In the tech world. San Fransisco and Boston will likely always garner the most name recognition. But Pittsburgh’s affordability continues to be a draw for companies and startups alike, according to the pros at CBRE.

The commercial real estate and investment firm released its 2023 Scoring Tech Talent Report analyzing tech markets in the US and Canada, the industry’s demographics, and advantages for tech workers and employees. While last year marked progress as Pittsburgh secured the 26th out of the 50 top markets, this year, the Steel City fell in the overall rankings to the 30th spot.

CBRE VP Michael Stuart told he doesn’t think the downward shift is cause for concern. More so, he said, it means the city is not immune to economic conditions seen around the country.

“Fluctuation happens year over year,” Stuart said. “Obviously next year, it might continue to improve, [and] its fundamentals still remain very strong” — similar to what we heard from local pros when the latest Global Startup Ecosystem Report dropped in June, and Pittsburgh’s ranking among “emerging” hubs fell by 18 spots.

Stuart pointed to an “exceptional” market for labor quality relative to cost, a high-performing market and the city’s strong talent pool as reasons why companies and technologies will continue to choose Pittsburgh as a place to call home.

The cost of operating a company in Pittsburgh, including talent and office rent, increased to $46.3 million per year from the $42.5 million reported for last year, the report says, ranking it 33rd in annual operating costs.

In terms of tech talent concentration, the region employs 41,680 people in tech occupations, plus 123,050 in non-tech occupations. (That’s the difference between a “tech job” — aka software developers, programmers and the like — and a “job in tech” such as sales or marketing.) However, both figures represent a drop over the past five years, with a 6% decrease and 16.4% decrease, respectively.

The average wage is $94,126 for tech workers, a 20% increase over five years, and $52,475 for non-tech occupations.

In the way of diversity, the local tech talent workforce is 78% white, 13% Asian, 4% Black, 2% Hispanic and 27% female.

Pittsburgh’s relatively low cost of living may not be enough of a selling point for everyone: CBRE’s report found that the city saw a decline in its 20-something population by 7.5% between 2016 and 2021. The city did grow its 30-something population by 10%, but its tech talent market lost members of Gen Z.

Although Stuart said he couldn’t comment on the population shifts, he maintained that Pittsburgh remains an attractive place to do business.

“What we’re seeing there is consistency, and that’s the most important thing,” the VP said. “The fundamentals continue to remain very strong. It’s things like the education level here. It’s things like the level of talent that’s located here. It’s the cost to operate in business here.”

See the report Atiya Irvin-Mitchell is a 2022-2024 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.
Companies: CBRE

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