Updated Mar 13, 2022 - Technology

The new tech hubs

Growth in tech sector employment by metro area, 2019-2020
Data: Brookings Institution and U.S. Census; Note: Metro areas with fewer than 1,000 tech workers in 2020 were excluded; Map: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

A handful of fast-growing cities, including Miami, Orlando and San Diego, are claiming a bigger and bigger slice of America's tech workforce.

Why it matters: The rise of remote work has provided an opportunity for new cities to lure tech talent from coastal hubs, chipping away at established tech hubs' dominance.

Driving the news: Two new data sets — a report from the Brookings Institution and LinkedIn data tracking tech migration — paint a similar picture: Tech jobs flocked to a handful of new hubs, many of them in the Sun Belt, during the pandemic.

  • Miami was among the biggest winners: It saw a 30% increase in the net flow of workers in the software and IT sector who moved into the region in 2021, up from a 15% gain in 2020, according to LinkedIn.
  • 7 of the 10 fastest growing cities for tech worker inflows in 2021 were Sun Belt cities, including San Antonio, San Diego, Orlando and Jacksonville.
  • Charlotte, Tuscon and Virginia Beach saw big gains at the beginning of the pandemic, according to Brookings, as did a handful of college towns, including Lawrence, Kan.

What they're saying: "This does likely owe to remote work," said Brookings' Mark Muro, a co-author of the report. "We don’t see a wholesale end of the superstar period of tech centers, but we see a significant uptick in places that are actually growing faster."

  • "The location of tech jobs matters," he said. "Tech jobs drive innovation, pay well, and have substantial multipliers, for local economies and the national one."

Reality check: The big tech hubs — particularly the Bay Area, New York and Seattle — continue to hold the bulk of the jobs. And as tech companies invest in new offices and call workers back, the jobs that moved out of the superstar cities could come back.

  • "The question is are we looking at a disruption of the tech map or is this a temporary trend due to a crisis," Muro says.
  • New York has fared especially well: Its tech sector grew more during 2020 than in the years just before the pandemic, according to Brookings, and LinkedIn data show that boom continuing.
  • "We've seen that as things have started to subside and vaccinations increase, we're seeing people flow back into New York," LinkedIn senior data scientist Brian Xu told Axios, noting that New York was on the rise for all worker migration, not just tech. "I think a lot of workers are just coming back."

Between the lines: Texas and Florida, which are home to several of the cities luring tech workers, don't have state income tax.

  • And Miami has aggressively courted tech workers. "Miami Hack Week" in January involved roughly 1,000 attendees working on projects in homes across the city sponsored by companies.
  • "It's a great opportunity for tech people to come live here for a week and experience the city," Maria Derchi Russo, executive director of Refresh Miami, told Axios. "And a lot of those folks ended up deciding to move here."

What's next: The leaking of jobs from the tech centers looks likely to continue, at least in the short term, the report notes.

  • Startups are popping up in new places. The superstars' share of new tech companies ticked down from 54% in 2020 to 52% in 2021.

Editor's note: This story first published on March 8.

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