Tech: Valley’s Economic Hot Spot

by Mike Hunter


As employment grows, this sector continues to drive the Valley’s office market recovery

Phoenix lands at number two on CBRE’s annual Tech-Thirty list, which analyzes the 30 leading technology markets in the U.S. and Canada in terms of high-tech software/services job growth. Second only to San Francisco, the Valley continues to see the strongest tech-sector job growth in North America, reporting 44.5 percent job growth and more than 15,000 new jobs from 2013 to 2015.

“The Phoenix tech sector continues to gain momentum, reflected by both significant job growth and an ever-strengthening office market,” says Kevin Calihan, senior vice president in CBRE’s Phoenix office. “The Valley has firmly established itself as a growth market for tech firms; and, as our local business, education and economic development communities continue to work together to create opportunities, these firms will keep coming.”

Tech-related office leasing accounted for 20 percent of all office leasing in the U.S. in the first half of 2016, up from 18 percent in 2015, despite an overall slowing in tech job creation.

CBRE’s report showed that the hottest tech submarkets where tech job creation continues to boom — led by East Cambridge, Palo Alto and Santa Monica — are significantly outperforming their overall markets in terms of leasing activity and rent premiums, fueled primarily by the demand for highly skilled tech talent. In metropolitan Phoenix, downtown Tempe was the top performing tech submarket in terms of office fundamentals, followed closely by downtown Scottsdale, downtown Phoenix and the 101 Corridor in Chandler.

Office Rents in the Tech-Thirty

The CBRE report shows that office rents for the top submarket in each of the 30 markets analyzed increased in all but one submarket between Q2 2014 and Q2 2016. The highest rent growth in this period occurred in both established and up-and-coming tech submarkets, illustrating stiff competition among tenants to locate in areas rich in talent, such as University City, Oakland/East End Pittsburgh, East Cambridge, Palo Alto and Tempe. Average office rents in Tempe rose 24.5 percent to $25.74, compared to 11.6 percent to $23.61 for the overall Phoenix market over the same time period. From Q2 2013 to Q2 2015, Phoenix office rents grew 8.3 percent.

Job Growth in the Tech-Thirty

CBRE also analyzed the Tech-Thirty markets according to high-tech industry job growth. San Francisco topped the rankings for the fifth consecutive year; its high-tech job base has grown 47.0 percent between 2013 and 2015, while average asking rents increased by 22.7 percent from Q2 2014 and Q2 2016. Eighteen markets outperformed the U.S. average of 13.7 percent job growth in high-tech software/services, with Phoenix (44.5 percent), Austin (33.3 percent), Charlotte (33.2 percent), and Indianapolis (27.9 percent) rounding out the top five.

Over the past five years, the software/services industry created 780,000 new jobs at a 7.3 percent growth rate and accounted for nearly 20 percent of major leasing activity, according to CBRE’s Tech-Thirty 2016 report. In H1 2016, tighter labor and volatile capital market conditions led to job creation slowing to a 4 percent annual growth rate.

“Advanced technology has integrated itself into business productivity, and, although the talent pool is limited, strong demand for technology services from both businesses and consumers is expected to support hiring by high-tech firms. The skills of the available labor pool do not appear to align with available jobs, causing a structural barrier to growth,” says Colin Yasukochi, director of research and analysis at CBRE. “This demand for technology should support growth among high-tech companies and high-tech office market clusters.”

High-Tech Software/
Services Job Growth

Rank  |  Market  |  2013-2015

  1. San Francisco  47.0%
  2. Phoenix  44.5%
  3. Austin  33.3%
  4. Charlotte  33.2%
  5. Indianapolis  27.9%
  6. Silicon Valley  26.1%
  7. Toronto  25.9%
  8. New York  25.9%
  9. Chicago  21.1%
  10. Dallas/Ft. Worth  19.7%
  11. Pittsburgh  18.8%
  12. Seattle  17.6%
  13. Detroit  17.1%
  14. Vancouver  16.8%
  15. Raleigh-Durham  16.3%
  16. Nashville  16.2%
  17. San Francisco Peninsula  15.1%
  18. Salt Lake City  14.1%
  19. Orange County  13.3%
  20. Los Angeles  13.0%

Office Market
Rent Growth

Rank  |  Market  |  Q2 ‘14 vs. Q2 ‘16

  1. Silicon Valley  28.4%
  2. Raleigh-Durham  24.6%
  3. Orange County  24.3%
  4. San Francisco  22.7%
  5. SF Peninsula  19.8%
  6. Nashville  18.1%
  7. Dallas/Ft. Worth  16.6%
  8. Austin  15.3%
  9. Charlotte  14.8%
  10. Portland  14.2%
  11. San Diego  13.6%
  12. Boston  12.7%
  13. Salt Lake City  12.4%
  14. Denver  12.0%
  15. New York  11.6%
  16. Phoenix  11.6%
  17. Atlanta  11.4%
  18. Los Angeles  10.1%
  19. Minneapolis  10.0%
  20. Vancouver  9.0%

Source: CBRE Tech-Thirty 2016

Sexual Harassment in the Tech Sector

The technology sector is the focus of another study, as Comparably — a company that analyzes business compensation and culture data — examines the level of sexual harassment reported by employees. It’s a workplace issue for both sexes, although men experience it only one-fourth as often as women (sexual harassment is reported by 6 percent of men and 24 percent of women).

Among the cities surveyed, Phoenix remains in the middle with approximately 10 percent of the tech workforce reporting they have been sexually harassed. Data is being continually collected; the chart below shows data as of press time for this December issue of In Business Magazine.

Have You Ever Been Sexually Harassed at Work?

City / Percent of Tech Workforce

Los Angeles:  15%
Minneapolis: 12%
Denver: 11%
Seattle: 10%
Phoenix: 10%
Boston: 9%
Washington, DC: 9%
San Francisco: 8%
Dallas: 8%
New York: 7%
Portland: 7%
Atlanta:  7%
San Diego:  7%
Austin: 6%
Chicago: 6%

Source (updated continually):

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