OKC rank among top cities for tech talent growth

Published: Thursday, July 15, 2021 By: Journal Record Staff Source: The Journal Record

Aerospace and other technology-driven industries are having more of an economic impact in Oklahoma, as indicated in a new report that reflects the rising status of Oklahoma City and Tulsa as tech hubs.

The report by CBRE, which tracks market trends as a major commercial real estate services and investment firm, ranked Oklahoma City 15th and Tulsa in the 24th position among 75 “up-and-coming” North American tech-talent markets. Metros were ranked according to their abilities to attract and grow tech talent.

Some 19,410 tech professionals were counted in the Oklahoma City market in 2020, drawing average salaries of $83,054. Over the past five years, the number of people with higher-level tech skills employed in the metro has increased by 3%, according to the report.

In Tulsa, 12,460 tech professionals were employed in various industries in 2020, drawing average salaries of $82,815. Since 2015, the total number of tech professionals in Oklahoma’s second-largest city has increased by 19%.

Lee Wallis, managing director for CBRE Oklahoma, said the state benefits from “direct talent pipelines” at the University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University, the University of Tulsa and other universities, including in neighboring states of Texas and Arkansas.

“There’s (also) a high quality of life here with a lower cost of living for people who don’t necessarily want to live in major hubs like San Francisco or New York,” he said. “We expect to see the amount of tech workers and companies in the region continue to grow.”

Interestingly, the report found emerging tech markets concentrated in the Midwest and South, with some, like Tulsa, realizing double-digit growth in tech talent professionals in the last half-decade.

It’s worth noting, too, that tech professionals in places like Oklahoma City and Tulsa seemed to ride out turbulence stirred by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 more comfortably than many. Across the United States, tech occupations registered job growth of 0.8% in 2020 even as non-tech jobs declined by 5.5%. Software developers and programmers were most in demand, adding 85,000 U.S. jobs for a 4.8% growth rate from a year earlier. Tech professionals also were in demand by government, financial, professional and business industry sectors.

Oklahoma also stood out in the report in other key areas:

• Tech wages in Tulsa have increased 13% over the past five years while tech wages in Oklahoma City have increase by an average 17%.

•In the category of software developer, wages averaged $86,092 in Tulsa last year, up 9.7% over the past five years. In Oklahoma City, wages averaged $85,405, up 12.9% over the past five years.

• In 2019, tech degree completions in Tulsa totaled 304, while Oklahoma City had 1,166 completions.

This story originally ran on the JournalRecord.com. 

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