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Boston area among top North American markets for tech talent, report says

Annual CBRE ranking finds a particularly deep tech labor pool in the region—that’s important for the housing market

Facebook opened a new office in Cambridge’s Kendall Square in January 2019.
Boston Globe via Getty Images

The Boston area is one of the top 10 markets in the U.S. and Canada for technology talent, according to a new report from commercial real estate brokerage CBRE Inc. The finding underscores one of the major reasons that housing costs are so high in the Boston area compared with the rest of the U.S.

CBRE’s annual “Scoring Tech Talent” tracks urban markets according to their abilities to attract and to grow jobs in industries such as technology, biotechnology, and e-commerce.

In particular, CBRE’s report found that the Boston region has a deep tech talent pool: 160,070, or 5.8 percent of the region’s total employment, compared with a national average of 3.7 percent.

What dug this pool? For one thing, according to CBRE, the region has an especially high concentration of residents in their 20s. The share of twenty-somethings is 24.1 percent here compared with 13.8 percent nationwide. And the region’s universities, colleges, and other institutions continue to turn out tech graduates.

“In the last five years,” the report said, “Greater Boston has produced nearly 34,000 more tech graduates than the market could employ, making it a brain drain market.”

But still a major market for tech and tech-related jobs, right up there with the likes of the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, Toronto, New York, Austin, and Washington, D.C. Such prominence contributes to the region’s high housing costs.

That’s because one of the reasons those prices and rents are so high is that there are plenty of tenants and buyers willing and able to pay such sums. And a lot of those tenants and buyers come from the tech sector.

Remember the debate over the Amazon HQ? Some worried that if the e-commerce behemoth picked Boston for its second headquarters, its newly arrived employees would gobble up that much more of the city’s already relatively scarce housing supply and further drive up prices.

Tech’s prominence in Boston is only expected to grow too. An annual survey of the industry by management consultancy KPMG released in February 2019 found that Boston is seen as the ninth likeliest city globally to become the “leading technology innovation hub outside of Silicon Valley over the next four years.”