Mar 14, 2022 - News

Colorado cities continue to draw more tech workers

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

Led by Denver, Colorado's technology hubs are getting a boost in the era of flexible workplaces.

What's happening: The rise of remote work has provided an opportunity for new cities to lure tech talent from coastal hubs, chipping away at established hubs' dominance, Axios' Margaret Harding McGill and Erica Pandey report.

Four Colorado metro areas saw growth from 2015 to 2020, according to a new Brookings Institution study.

  • Denver is one of the big winners in this migration, ranking high nationally for new workers and job listings.
  • Colorado Springs' and Boulder saw a greater increase from 2019 to 2020 than in the previous four years.

Why it matters: "The location of tech jobs matters," said Brookings' Mark Muro, a co-author of the report. "Tech jobs drive innovation, pay well, and have substantial multipliers, for local economies and the national one."

Zoom in: The Denver-Aurora-Lakewood metro is listed as a "rising star" for its growth, adding 14,477 tech workers from 2015 to 2020, a 6.6% increase.

  • The growth from 2019 to 2020 was 4.6%.

By the numbers: Boulder added 2,167 tech workers, 3.4% growth over five years. It grew 4.4% from 2019 to 2020.

  • Colorado Springs added 612 tech workers, a 1.2% increase, over those five years and 1.4% from 2019 to 2020.
  • Fort Collins added 855 tech workers in five years, a 3.9% growth rate. The single-year growth from 2019 to 2020 was 3.4%.

Reality check: The nation's 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.

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 superstar cities share of new tech companies ticked down from 54% in 2020 to 52% in 2021.

This story first appeared in the Axios Denver newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard. Subscribe here.


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