By John Pletz
San Francisco, Austin, New York, Silicon Valley . . . Chicago?
Chicago had the sixth-best growth in tech jobs among the nation's top 20 tech markets in the past two years, according to federal data compiled by real estate firm CBRE Inc.
The city logged 19.3 percent growth in jobs at tech companies between 2011 and 2013, keeping pace with its 19.7 percent growth between 2010 and 2012, when it was the fifth-fastest growing. That topped such hot spots as Seattle (16.9 percent), Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina (16.8 percent), and Boston (15.7 percent).
The growth in tech jobs helped keep Chicago's real estate market afloat since the recession (read Crain's recent story on that here). Even though tech companies account for just 6 percent of the overall office square footage in downtown Chicago, they accounted for 17 percent of leases signed last year, according to CBRE. In 2009, tech companies were responsible for about 5 percent of leasing activity.
The city of San Francisco led the list with a whopping 51.1 percent increase in tech jobs between 2011 and 2013, followed by Austin, Texas (34.2 percent), the San Francisco peninsula (30.1 percent), New York (22.6 percent) and Silicon Valley (19.9 percent).
Chicago added nearly 12,000 tech jobs between 2011 and 2013. While that's 25 percent fewer jobs than San Francisco or Seattle, it's more than Austin and nearly even with Boston.
“You'll continue to see Chicago tech firms grow, and you'll see big-name East Coast and West Coast firms move to Chicago and establish a presence,” said Brad Serot, a senior vice president at Los Angeles-based CBRE.
Companies such as Yelp Inc., Twitter Inc., Salesforce.com and Facebook Inc. have increased staffing or announced plans for Chicago expansions in the past few years.
“Chicago's a bargain,” Mr. Serot said. “The cost of real estate is 50 percent of the coasts. I think you'll see some other big-name firms enter the market. We're still in growth mode.”
San Francisco rents rose 34.6 percent between 2012 and 2014, according to CBRE data. New York rents climbed 17.5 percent. Rents in Chicago, meanwhile, grew 3.5 percent.
© Illinois Science and Technology Coalition
Illustration by Dieter Braun