San Diego’s Tech-Labor Force Grows 20 Percent in Five Years

Carrie Rossenfeld Office

San Diego moved up three spots to #16 on CBRE’s Tech Talent Scorecard, part of its sixth-annual Scoring Tech Talent Report, which ranks 50 U.S. and Canadian markets according to their ability to attract and grow tech talent. San Diego’s tech-labor force grew 20.4 percent over the past five years, adding 11,870 tech jobs, the firm reports.

Tech labor concentration — or the percentage of total employment — is an influential factor in how “tech-centric” the market is and its growth potential. San Diego has a tech talent labor pool of 70,100 or 4.9 percent of its total employment, compared to the national average of 3.5 percent.

The top five markets for tech talent in 2018 were the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, Washington, D.C., Toronto (the first time a Canadian market made the top five) and New York, all large markets with a tech labor pool of more than 50,000.

The Tech Talent Scorecard is determined based on 13 unique metrics, including tech talent supply, growth, concentration, cost, completed tech degrees, industry outlook for job growth, and market outlook for both office and apartment rent-cost growth.

San Diego is an attractive market for tech talent, particularly due to its competitive wages and affordable living costs compared to top competitive markets such as the San Francisco Bay Area, New York City and Los Angeles, according to CBRE. The market stood out in the report in a number of other key areas:

• San Diego is one of the highest-paying markets, taking the eighth spot. Over a five-year span, average tech wages climbed 16.6 percent to $102,994.
• San Diego produced 13,460 tech degrees from 2011-2016.
• San Diego has the 11th-highest concentration of software developers and programmers, with 24,850, accounting for 35.4 percent of its tech talent.
• San Diego’s office rents increased 31 percent to $35.07 and its vacancy rate decreased by 3.3 percent points to 11.2 percent from Q1 2013 to Q1 2018.

Andrew Ewald, first VP for CBRE, who leads the firm’s Tech and Media Practice in San Diego, says, “The San Diego tech ecosystem offers a strong and growing skilled tech-talent labor pool, competitive wages, and a lower cost of living compared to other top tech markets in which we compete for talent,” said. “Talent is the largest expense for most firms, and they are willing to pay a premium to be in proximity to the highest quality of tech talent. San Diego is an attractive market because of our diverse tech talent, venture-capital spending, quality of life, and strong industries such as medical device, defense, life sciences, and communication technology.”