May 26, 2022 - Business

North Carolina's pandemic tech boom ranks top 5 nationally

Illustration of a squirrel holding a pixelated acorn.
Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

The number of tech workers in North Carolina grew by nearly 5% during the pandemic.

The top 5 states:

  1. Tennessee +7.6%
  2. Idaho +7.3%
  3. Washington +6.6%
  4. Utah +5.3%
  5. North Carolina +4.9%

Why it matters: North Carolina's tech industry was surging before the pandemic, especially across the Triangle, where Raleigh's growing reputation has made it the target of big tech firms.

  • That growing reputation as a place for tech talent, along with a cheaper cost of living than most tech hubs, such as New York City or the Bay Area, has caught the attention of many tech workers now geographically freed by the possibility of remote work.
  • Like many areas seeing population growth during the pandemic, housing prices and rents have risen significantly in the Triangle over the past two years.

Flashback: In 2021, North Carolina gave Apple the largest incentive package in the state's history to open a campus in Wake County.

  • Apple could get nearly $1 billion in state and local tax breaks, in exchange for 3,000 new jobs with an average annual salary of $187,000. It has slowly started hiring locally.
  • Google is also planning to put 1,000 jobs in a cloud computing hub in downtown Durham. It hired more than 100 people last year.

Yes, but: It's not just tech giants contributing to the growth. Locally grown tech startups — like Epic Games and Pendo — have also created thousands of jobs in the past two years.

By the numbers: The TECNA report focused on a two-year span from Dec. 2019-2021, a period dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the rise of remote work.

Within the state, Raleigh saw its tech jobs grow by more than 6% to 105,000 tech professionals, according to TECNA.

  • Charlotte grew by 8% to 80,000 tech professionals.
  • TECNA lists Raleigh as the 19th largest tech hub by number of workers. Charlotte is No. 22.

Of note: Georgia, Maryland, and North Carolina had the smallest gender gaps among the 25 states with the largest tech workforces.

  • Yes, but: There is still a 40 percentage point gap between the number of male workers vs. female workers in the state.
  • In the Raleigh metro, 71% of tech workers are male, while 29% are female.
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