Charts of the Week: The technology industry in American cities

Chart: Skills and opportunities pathways

Brookings experts continue to research localities that are reaping the benefits of the booming tech industry and which metros have potential for future job creation. On this week’s edition of Charts of the Week, we bring you a sample of recent material focused on the geography of technology jobs. 


Despite announcements from Amazon, Google, and Apple that the companies are adding high-level jobs outside traditional West Coast tech hubs, Mark Muro and Jacob Whiton find that only nine of the largest 100 metros in the United States significantly increased their share of tech jobs from 2015 to 2017. “These ‘winners’ of the last few years included San Francisco, Seattle, San Jose, Los Angeles, Austin, Denver, Orlando, Kansas City, and Charlotte,” the authors explain. “Another 60 cities actually lost share of the sector due to slow or negative growth … these new data on the geography of tech are disconcerting for those thinking the U.S. would do better with a more balanced economic map.” 

Expanding opportunity from emerging innovation clusters  

Chart: Skills and opportunities pathways

In a recent report, Makada Henry-Nickie and Hao Sun identify several emerging cities that could support startup companies and innovation-driven growth. “Focusing on leading cities alone masks other important locations, such as Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and Baltimore, which have substantial Black populations,” the authors write. “The U.S. stands at the center of a pivotal moment – one that implores society to consider what innovation and found jobs mean for marginalized groups.” 

Eight US cities that employ more women and minority populations IN TECHMap - 8 digitally inclusive cities

Muro and Whiton also find that while many cities are increasing their digital jobs, few of those positions are inclusive to marginalized communities. However, in eight U.S. cities, women, people of color, and workers without a college degree are receiving more jobs than the sector norm. “Perhaps local culture is the reason,” the authors write. “Perhaps it has to do with the nature of local institutions or the existence of vibrant and longstanding peer networks or active efforts to promote inclusion. Regardless of the cause, some places are achieving a higher degree of digital inclusion.”