According to CBRE, the number of tech jobs in Chicago rose 26% from 2010 to 2013.
WBBM Noon Business Hour recently asked me about this statistic and my opinion on what is driving this huge increase. I believe there are a couple of factors leading to a growth in tech jobs in Chicago.
First, companies like Groupon and GrubHub have gone public, which expands our exposure nationally and helps to solidify Chicago on the tech map. Companies like these have been a solid source of innovation and growth over the years, which has stimulated the need for workers with a tech background, and increased the pool of tech workers with experience in the city.
Second, in the recession of 2008, organizations realized they had to do more with less. This resulted in technology replacing a lot of administrative and lower-end service jobs. Those jobs were eliminated, but with technology, you need to have people to maintain the databases and software, which creates a whole ecosystem of jobs that feed off of that new need for technology. This is true for tech companies as well as manufacturing, the service industry, restaurants, etc. Everyone is using more technology to run their businesses better.
The hype with River North and tech incubators is legitimate. 1871 is running out of space, Built in Chicago membership is at an all-time high, Google Midwest Headquarters will be in the West Loop, and even Class-A addresses on Michigan Avenue are trying to attract tech companies.
As far as bidding wars for top tech talent, there will always be a war for good talent. Chicago is a mecca for new grads in the Midwest, and if you’re interested in working in the tech sector, the landscape has changed– you don’t have to move to one of the coasts for great tech jobs.
As companies realize they don’t have to be in the traditional tech sectors to start-up or have access to a top-notch tech workforce, this trend in Chicago will only continue.