Vancouver's tech industry adds 13,000 jobs, ranks 3rd in North America

Nov 1 2021, 3:49 pm

Despite COVID-19’s harsh economic conditions, Vancouver was still able to add 12,900 tech jobs between 2019 and 2020, representing a 21% growth.

This places Vancouver in third place in North America in job growth, making tech one of the city’s new strongest sectors. The findings represent a clear indication that the city is one of the continent’s most resilient and robust tech hubs, according to a new report by CBRE examining 30 tech markets in Canada and the United States.

Vancouver was only behind Toronto’s growth of 26%, adding 40,200 tech jobs over the same two-year period, and Seattle’s growth of 23.6%, adding about 39,600 jobs.

But this represents a slower rate of tech job growth for Vancouver than the previous two-year period between 2017 and 2018, when the city saw a 30% increase. On the other hand, Toronto and Seattle saw higher growth in the last two-year period compared to their previous period.

Vancouver’s tech industry growth is currently just ahead of New York City, Austin, and Montreal, Quebec, which saw job growth rates of 17.9% to 12,300, 16.4% to 9,400, and 14.6% to 12,600, respectively.

As of 2020, software engineers in Vancouver earned an average of $97,718 annually, higher than $89,690 in Toronto and $77,085 in Montreal, but lower than $134,430 in Seattle, $117,902 in New York, and $105,404 in Austin.

The number of people working in the tech industry in Vancouver reached 74,500 in 2020, comparable to Austin with 66,600, Montreal with 99,000, and Los Angeles with 86,600. In contrast, Silicon Valley’s tech workforce is at 239,300, Seattle 220,000, Toronto 192,200, New York City 140,000, Dallas/Fort Worth 122,000, and San Francisco 113,500.

The growth of the tech industry continues to give Vancouver the lowest office vacancy rate in North America. Although the pandemic quickly shifted office workers towards a temporary work-from-home model, Vancouver still saw the second-highest office space rent growth, rising by 13.3% over two years — just behind Seattle’s growth of 15%. Only Charlotte and Austin saw their office rent growth exceed by 10% over the same period.

Vancouver’s strong office market is also reflected by the significant new construction activity and low availability of space for sublease; there is currently 4.6 million sq ft of office space under construction, with only 900,000 sq ft available for sublease. The new office supply that will reach completion over the next five years is mainly pre-leased, pre-sold, or under contract.

Much of Vancouver’s tech growth momentum and office space demand is being driven by Amazon’s major expansion into the city, anchored by the company’s future hub at The Post, currently under construction.

“It’s crucial to note that Vancouver’s office market pre-pandemic was facing supply constraints, where occupiers were troubled to secure blocks of space larger than 50,000 sq ft,” said Jason Kiselbach, the senior vice president and managing director of CBRE Vancouver, recalling downtown Vancouver’s exceedingly low office vacancy rate of 2.3% in the fourth quarter of 2019.

“The pandemic simply balanced the lack of supply we’ve witnessed for so long, providing new-found opportunities for occupiers against other competitive markets,” adding that there has been strong office space absorption more recently.

While 9.5 million sq ft of office space is under construction in Toronto, it has a high sublease availability of 6.5 million sq ft. There are similar conditions in most other markets, including Seattle, where 7.3 million sq ft of office space is under construction, and 6.4 million sq ft is available for sublease.

North America’s top tech markets for job growth, 2019-2020

  1. Toronto +26.4%
  2. Seattle +21.9%
  3. Vancouver +20.9%
  4. New York City +17.9%
  5. Austin +16.4%
  6. Montreal +14.6%
  7. Charlotte +13.2%
  8. Dallas/Fort Worth +12.7%
  9. San Francisco +12.6%
  10. Raleigh-Durham +12.0%
  11. Denver +11.5%
  12. Pittsburgh +10.1%
  13. Silicon Valley +9.4%
  14. Indianapolis +8.9%
  15. Phoenix +8.8%
  16. Atlanta +8.8%
  17. Nashville +8.3%
  18. Los Angeles +8.0%
  19. San Diego +7.9%
  20. St. Louis +7.2%
  21. Boston +7.1%
  22. Salt Lake City +7.0%
  23. Portland +7.0%
  24. Chicago +6.6%
  25. Baltimore +5.8%
  26. Washington, DC +4.5%
  27. Philadelphia +3.5%
  28. Orange County +1.1%
  29. Minneapolis/St. Paul -2.9%
  30. Detroit -4.4%

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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