Vancouver third fastest-growing tech hub in North America as city adds 13k jobs: CBRE

Real estate services firm measuring city’s performance over two years

Vancouver is the third fastest-growing tech hub in North America, according to new research from CBRE | Max Baumann/Getty Images

Vancouver’s status as one of the top tech hubs in North America is proving resilient.

The city has managed to draw 12,900 new workers into the local technology sector over the past two years, according to a report released Friday from CBRE Group Inc.

That’s the third fastest rate of growth (20.9%) among 30 cities measured by the real estate services firm in 2019 and 2020.

Vancouver trails only No. 1 Toronto (+40,200 jobs) and No. 2 Seattle (+38,559 jobs), which registered 26.4% and 21.9% growth during that same period, respectively.

But the past two years’ growth in Vancouver still trails the 30.2% growth it attained in 2017 and 2018.

Labour costs, meanwhile, remain relatively low compared with Vancouver’s new NHL rival down the I-5.

The average annual wage earned by a local software engineer stands at US$97,718 compared with $134,430 in Seattle.

Despite the pandemic pushing much of the economy to adopt remote working overnight, Vancouver’s 13.3% growth rate of office market rentals is the second largest in North America after Seattle’s (15%).

Lest one think the impact of the pandemic was not reflected in the data, CBRE measured demand for office space in the second quarter of 2021 vs. the second quarter of 2019. It was during that period Toronto saw demand actually decline by 0.1%.

San Francisco, thought to be the world’s leading tech hub, saw demand for office rentals shrink more than anywhere else on the continent at -12%.

Vancouver is proving to be enticing for international tech firms such as Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq:AMZN) and Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq:MSFT) — the two largest occupiers of downtown real estate.

“From the North American perspective, the skilled pool of Canadian tech workers paid in discounted Canadian dollars is a significant draw for companies contemplating where to expand operations,” stated a separate CBRE report from November 2020.

Earlier this year, CBRE ranked Vancouver as the No. 11 tech hub in North America.

torton@biv.com

@reporton