Tech workers are moving to NWA, but growth is slow
The rise of remote work has provided an opportunity for metro areas, including NWA, to lure tech talent from coastal hubs and claim a bigger slice of that workforce.
Driving the news: A report from the Brookings Institution and LinkedIn data tracking tech migration paint a similar picture: Tech workers flocked to a handful of new hubs, many of them in the Sun Belt, during the pandemic, Axios' Margaret Harding McGill and Erica Pandey write.
Zoom in: Northwest Arkansas' tech jobs per capita grew at a modest 2.4% between 2019 and 2020. That ranked the region at No. 42 out of 100 large metros in the country, according to Brookings.
What they're saying: G.B. Cazes, an IT workforce consultant for the Northwest Arkansas Council, told Axios there are 2,500 tech job openings in NWA — a quarter of all job openings — with companies ranging from Fortune 100s to startups.
- The Northwest Arkansas Council is working to attract talent through its Life Works Here incentive program and marketing, Cazes said.
- But the need is so great, the council is also working with local educational institutions to help develop training programs that get people into IT jobs quicker than a four-year degree.
Yes, but: A kink in the regional talent pipeline is that remote work means tech workers who live in NWA can work for any company outside the region, Cazes said.
- The area isn't just competing to draw talent, but working to retain the workers who already live here.
The intrigue: Nearby Lawrence, Kan., and Sherman, Texas, both ranked high in the Brookings' growth data for tech jobs per capita (No. 1 and No. 5, respectively), showing that the center of the U.S. can draw talent from other markets.
Of note: A recent Heartland Forward study showed between 2010 and 2019, workers were slowly migrating from the coasts to the 20 central states that make up the heartland.
- Last week, The Wall Street Journal ranked NWA as the third best job market for small cities in the U.S.
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