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03 October . 2019

Where to work in Austin: an inside look at the nation’s hottest job market

It seems like there has never been a better time to find a great job in Austin. Just take a look at some of the most recent reports about Austin’s employment outlook and its reputation as a great city to live, work and play in:

  • The Wall Street Journal has crowned Austin as the No. 1 hottest U.S. job market among the nation’s 53 largest metro areas.
  • After LinkedIn released its Top Companies 2019 list, an Austin Business Journal analysis found that many of these companies have major expansion plans for their already sizable operations in Austin.
  • Tech companies account for a much higher-than-average share of Austin’s workforce, compared to the national average. Ditto for small startup companies in Austin.
  • Austin ranks as one of American’s most dynamic cities, which bodes well for continued economic growth and quality of life.

In this blog, we’ll take an in-depth look at Austin as America’s hottest job market. We’ll also example the impressive overlap between LinkedIn’s Top Companies and many of Austin’s largest and fastest-growing employers. Finally, we’ll look at how Austin’s quality of life – ranked No. 1 for three consecutive years on U.S. News’ Best Places to Live in the U.S. list – makes Austin a great place to live as well as work.

The hottest U.S. job market

In a lengthy 2019 report titled “Where the Jobs Are,” the Wall Street Journal looked at 53 U.S. metro areas with populations of at least 1 million people. The WSJ crowned Austin as the nation’s No. 1 hottest job market after analyzing each metro area for five metrics, including average unemployment rates, labor-force participation rates and wage data.

The WSJ wrote: “The area that is home to Dell Inc., Amazon’s Whole Foods and the University of Texas ranks high in all metrics, and just landed another prize employer: Apple Inc.’s $1 billion campus.”

Austin ranked second for both job growth and labor force growth among all of the U.S. metro areas analyzed. Austin ranked third for labor force participation, and fourth for wage growth. And with an unemployment rate of just 3 percent, Austin ranked sixth nationwide.

LinkedIn’s Top Companies in Austin

Tech companies dominate the 2019 LinkedIn Top Companies list, and many of these tech giants have major – and growing – presences in Austin.

To determine which companies American workers are most eager to work for, LinkedIn analyzed each company for its reach, engagement, job interest and retention. LinkedIn and its parent company, Microsoft, were removed from consideration.

After the 2019 LinkedIn Top Companies list was released, the Austin Business Journal did an analysis of some of the top companies’ expansion and hiring plans in Austin. Following is a summary of the ABJ report, including the latest updates on their Austin operations.

  • Alphabet, the parent company of Google, is rapidly expanding in 14 states, spending $13 billion and planning tens of thousands of new hires. In Austin, Google has leased an entire 35-story skyscraper currently under construction along Lady Bird Lake in downtown Austin. Google has said that the building can accommodate up to 5,000 employees. The company expects to start moving in by 2023. Also in 2019, Google leased all seven floors of an office building under construction in the Saltillo development in East Austin. The 150,000 square feet of space in this lease can provide enough room for 750 workers, and Google has said they will start moving in by early 2020. By August 2018, Google had more than 800 workers in Austin. No doubt that local workforce will expand significantly when the new buildings are occupied. Outside of Austin – but still significant for Texas – Google has announced plans to develop a $600 million data center in Midlothian, near Dallas.

  • Facebook is also aggressively expanding its footprint in Austin, where it employs about 1,200 people as of September 2019. The social media giant already has three major offices in Austin. Its original Austin office occupies the 9th through 12th floors at 300 W. Sixth St. in downtown Austin. Facebook also just opened a new office in the Third + Shoal tower in downtown that has room for more than 1,550 employees. At Domain Northside, which is rapidly cementing its status as Austin’s second downtown, Facebook has leased an entire 17-story office tower with about 320,000 square feet. Scheduled for completion in late 2019, this tower is next to other new buildings occupied by tech companies like Indeed and Home Away. Facebook has also leased 32,000 square feet at the Parmer Innovation Center, a new and growing tech hub in North Austin, near Apple’s new mega campus.

  • Amazon has confirmed plans to bring a total of 1,400 new jobs to Austin. To accommodate all these new workers, it has leased more than 245,000 square feet in a single building at Domain Northside. The Seattle-based company already employs about 1,000 people in two other buildings at this same North Austin development. When Amazon’s Whole Foods Market subsidiary and its San Marcos warehouse are included, the company has about 8,000 employees in the Austin area.

  • Apple is developing a $1 billion campus in North Austin that will immediately house about 5,000 employees, and could grow up as many as 15,000 in the future. Sprawling across 133 acres, the campus will ultimately have about 3 million square feet, with 2 million square feet devoted to office space and research and development. Jobs at the new campus will include engineering, research and development, operations, finance, sales and customer support, according to ABJ. The first building is planned for completion in late 2021 or early 2022. Already, Austin is Apple’s largest corporate hub outside of its headquarters in Cupertino, California. Apple has about 6,200 employees in Central Texas.

  • Oracle opened a new 560,000-square-foot corporate campus with two buildings near downtown Austin in 2018, where 3,000 Oracle employees now work. Though Oracle has hinted at an expansion that could nearly double the current square footage at its campus, no definite timetable has emerged for this potential second phase of development. Company executives have stated that the 40-acre campus ultimately has room for up to 10,000 employees.

  • Dell Technologies, one of Austin’s pioneering tech companies, is already the second-largest private employer in Central Texas, with about 13,000 workers in the region. In August 2019, Dell announced a $10 million expansion of its Austin campus that would retain 490 jobs and create 40 new ones.

Other major tech job expansions on Austin’s horizon include Zoho Corp., a software and IT firm that chose Austin for its new U.S. headquarters in 2019. Relocating from California, Zoho will build a new 100,000-square-foot campus on 375 acres on the southeast side of Austin. Planned to open in 2021, the new campus will eventually be home to between 400 and 500 employees.

Khoros LLC, an Austin-based tech company created through the merger of Spredfast Inc. and Lithium Technologies LLC, has leased 80,000 square feet in Northwest Austin, for a new office that will house 450 employees in Austin. Many other smaller tech firms have also relocated to Austin in the past year.

Tech giants and promising startups

A 2019 study by the Austin Chamber of Commerce shed some interesting light on how Austin’s tech sector makes up a growing share of the local economy. Here are some key findings:

  • Austin's tech industry has grown by nearly 25% in the past five years, and by nearly 30% in the past 10 years.
  • Austin is home to more than 7,000 high-tech companies, accounting for more than 14 percent of all employer firms in the city. That’s more than 1.5 times the national average rate of tech employers.
  • Tech jobs account for almost 16 percent of all jobs in Austin. That share is nearly twice the national average for the percent of tech jobs in overall employment.
  • The annual salary across all industries in Austin is just over $62,000. Jobs in Austin’s high-tech sector have an average salary of more than $118,000.
  • Manufacturing jobs make up just over 23 percent of jobs in Austin’s tech industry. The other 77 percent of jobs involve engineering, R&D, finance and other functions for tech companies.

Another report from the Austin Chamber of Commerce shows how startup companies are having a major positive impact on Austin’s tech industry. A 2018 study released by the Chamber found that Austin’s startups account for a larger share of businesses in Austin than in nearly all other major U.S. cities.

Austin’s thriving tech industry is one reason the city has been named one of the 20 most dynamic cities in America by the real estate website Point2 Homes. The website analyzed 150 U.S. cities for four major categories, including human capital, education and culture, economic activity, and housing. The goal was to find out which cities are “consistently innovating and developing" and how they "stand out among others."

Nationwide, Austin ranks No. 6 among the nation’s most dynamic large cities in the study. The city’s most notable metric was a 29 percent increase in gross domestic product between 2013 and 2017. By this metric, Austin ranks second among all 150 cities studied. Austin also ranks high for number of new companies, population growth and decrease in poverty.

Austin is the Best Place to Live in the U.S.

Job growth and quality of life ultimately go hand in hand. After all, highly skilled and in-demand workers can find great jobs just about anywhere, and employers focus on growing their operations in cities that can offer world-class places to live, work and play.

When it comes to lifestyle, Austin shines. For the third consecutive year, Austin was named as the No. 1 Best Place to Live in the U.S. by U.S. News & World Report in 2019.

Each year, U.S. News ranks the nation’s 125 largest metro areas using five indexes, including desirability, value, job market, quality of life and net migration.

Using a 10-point scale, Austin earned an overall score of 7.6, edging out No. 2 ranked Denver, which had a 7.4 score. Not surprisingly, Austin also earned impressive 9 scores on desirability and net migration. Austin’s job market scored 7.4, and its quality of life score was 7.3.

Tech workers are overwhelmingly Millennials, and Austin has been singled out as America’s No. 1

Millennial Dream City by Nestpick, a global relocation website that analyzed 100 world cities for food, employment, transportation, housing, gender equality, LGBT friendliness, internet speed and other metrics.

Millennials have “highly expectant standards” for where they live, and “will not stay long in a location that doesn’t match their criteria,” according to Nestpick. Not surprisingly, Austin ranks especially high for startup companies and festivals, along with employment opportunities and the number of Apple stores, considered a metric for how technologically engaged a citizenry is.

Unlike some West Coast tech meccas, Austin is still an affordable city for a wide range of homebuyers. Two recent studies have identified Austin as a top city for homebuyers for affordability, stability and growth.

If you’re thinking about making a move to work in the vibrant Capital City of Texas, here are 10 great things to know about living in Austin.

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