Tech worker wearing Google Glass

Searching for a tech job? Put these 10 surprising tech hubs on your list

When you’re looking at moving to another city, one of the things you typically put high on your checklist is the job market. After all, it’s a pretty good bet that you need a paycheck to cover the mortgage or rent.

If you’ve scouted the landscape for tech jobs, you’ve undoubtedly come across places like San Jose and San Francisco, CA; Seattle, WA; Austin, TX; and Raleigh, NC. But what about the less-than-obvious tech hubs?

Crunching the data

Josh Lehner, an economist at the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis, recently crunched 2014 data to come up with a ranking of the 50 largest U.S. metro areas by their share of tech employment.

No surprise: San Jose topped Lehner’s list. According to his analysis, more than 16 percent of the Silicon Valley workforce holds down one of 19 types of tech jobs, such as software developer and electrical engineer. That compares with 3.5 percent for the entire country.

Casting aside the San Joses and Austins of the tech world, we dug into Lehner’s data to unearth metro areas whose concentrations of tech talent just might surprise you. At No. 1 on our list is Baltimore, MD.

tech hubs

More in Baltimore

A recent report from commercial real estate giant CBRE placed Baltimore at No. 8 among the 10 largest U.S. markets for the amount of tech talent (at least 50,000 tech professionals per market). Northern California markets dominated the list, with Silicon Valley at No. 1.

The CBRE report indicates that Baltimore’s pool of tech talent grew by 42 percent from 2010 to 2013 — bested only by San Francisco and the San Francisco Peninsula, and ahead of Atlanta, GA, and Austin.

While Baltimore might not spring to mind as a classic tech hub, Colin Yasukochi, CBRE’s director of research and analysis, emphasizes that not all tech jobs are at tech companies.

“Though highly concentrated within the high-tech services industry, tech talent is not limited to any one type of company and can be found across all industry sectors,” Yasukochi said in a news release. “In fact, more than 60 percent of tech talent jobs are located outside of the core high-tech industry, and these workers help generate innovation and advances that can boost the whole economy … .”

10 surprising tech hubs

Here’s our full list of the 10 metro areas that should be on the radar of any job-seeking tech worker — but probably aren’t.

1. Baltimore, MD

Baltimore’s Inner Harbor area attracts millions of visitors every year. Fittingly, Baltimore harbors a lot of tech jobs.

Baltimore Inner Harbor

Overall tech-hub ranking (in top 50): 9
Concentration of tech jobs: 5.15%
Metro population (2014): 2,785,874
Metro unemployment rate (April 2015): 5.2%
Major suppliers of tech jobs: Johns Hopkins University, University of Maryland Medical System, Medstar Health, LifeBridge Health

2. Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN

OK, so the average high temperature in January is 24 degrees. However, the Minneapolis-St. Paul tech workforce is anything but frozen.

Minneapolis MN

Overall tech-hub ranking (in top 50): 11
Concentration of tech jobs: 5.08%
Metro population (2014): 3,495,176
Metro unemployment rate (April 2015): 3.5%
Major suppliers of tech jobs: Target, Minnesota state government, Allina Health, University of Minnesota, 3M

3. Detroit, MI

Make all the wisecracks you want about the Motor City, but Detroit’s deep pool of tech talent is nothing to laugh at.

Detroit MI

Overall tech-hub ranking (in top 50): 15
Concentration of tech jobs: 4.69%
Metro population (2014): 4,296,611
Metro unemployment rate (April 2015): 5.1%
Major suppliers of tech jobs: Detroit Medical Center, Ford, GM, Chrysler, Quicken Loans

4. Charlotte, NC

In the second largest financial center in the U.S. (behind New York City, NY), you can bank on finding a wealth of tech jobs.

Charlotte NC

Overall tech-hub ranking (in top 50): 16
Concentration of tech jobs: 4.68%
Metro population (2014): 2,380,314
Metro unemployment rate (April 2015): 5.1%
Major suppliers of tech jobs: Carolinas HealthCare System, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Lowe’s, Duke Energy

5. Columbus, OH

Columbus boasts one of the biggest universities in the country. Its tech presence also gives locals something to cheer about.

Ohio State University

Overall tech-hub ranking (in top 50): 17
Concentration of tech jobs: 4.57%
Metro population (2014): 1,994,536
Metro unemployment rate (April 2015): 3.8%
Major suppliers of tech jobs: Ohio State University, JPMorgan Chase, Nationwide, Honda, L Brands (Victoria’s Secret, Bath & Body Works)

6. Hartford, CT

Hartford’s status as the insurance capital of the U.S. helps ensure a steady supply of tech jobs.

Hartford CT

Overall tech-hub ranking: 18
Concentration of tech jobs: 4.47%
Metro population (2014): 1,214,295
Metro unemployment rate (April 2015): 5.8%
Major suppliers of tech jobs: United Technologies, Hartford Financial Services Group, Aetna, Cigna

7. Kansas City, MO

The City of Fountains offers a fountain of tech-employment opportunities.

Kansas City MO

Overall tech-hub ranking (in top 50): 20
Concentration of tech jobs: 4.35%
Metro population (2014): 2,071,133
Metro unemployment rate (April 2015): 5.2%
Major suppliers of tech jobs: Cerner, Sprint, Hallmark, Black & Veatch

8. Sacramento, CA

The Gold Rush of 1849 started about 45 miles northwest of Sacramento, so it’s no wonder that Sacramento provides some golden opportunities for tech workers.

Sacramento CA

Overall tech-hub ranking (in top 50): 22
Concentration of tech jobs: 4.11%
Metro population (2014): 2,244,397
Metro unemployment rate (April 2015): 5.6%
Major suppliers of tech jobs: California state government, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Kaiser Permanente, Sutter Health

9. Milwaukee, WI

A lot of tech-employment opportunities are brewing in Brew Town.


Overall tech-hub ranking (in top 50): 23
Concentration of tech jobs: 3.98%
Metro population (2014): 1,572,245
Metro unemployment rate (April 2015): 4.7%
Major suppliers of tech jobs: Aurora Health Care, GE Healthcare Technologies, Kohl’s, Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare, Northwestern Mutual

10. St. Louis, MO

The Gateway Arch stands tall as a symbol of St. Louis, which serves as a gateway for tech employment.

St. Louis MO

Overall tech-hub ranking (in top 50): 24
Concentration of tech jobs: 3.95%
Metro population (2014): 2,806,207
Metro unemployment rate (April 2015): 5.3%
Major suppliers of tech jobs: BJC HealthCare, Boeing, Washington University, Scott Air Force Base, Saint Louis University

Data sources

Oregon Office of Economic Analysis, U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Baltimore Development Corp., Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, Detroit Regional Chamber, Crain’s Detroit Business, Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, Columbus 2020, Hartford Courant, Kansas City Business Journal, Sacramento Business Journal, Greater Sacramento Area Economic Council, Discover Milwaukee, Milwaukee 7 Regional Economic Development Partnership, St. Louis Business Journal, St. Louis Regional Chamber

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