Toronto, ON

Vancouver and Toronto Had the Most High-Tech Job Growth in North America in 2020 and 2021 – and Montreal Wasn’t Far Behind

November 2, 2022

Aerial view of city

Waterloo Region, Ottawa and Calgary are ranked in the Next 10 Tech Markets to Watch in CBRE’s new Tech-30 report

Two Canadian cities, Vancouver (+44.2%) and Toronto (+37.0%), recorded the most high-tech job growth on the continent in 2020 and 2021 combined, according to CBRE’s new Tech-30 report. Vancouver and Toronto outpaced Austin, Texas – which came in third in the ranking with 25.0% growth – and Seattle, with 18.6% growth. Montreal rounded out the top five on the Tech-30 list, with 15.8% growth in tech jobs in the past two years.

Tech growth remained strong in the wake of the pandemic with thirteen North American markets recording faster high-tech job growth in the past two years than in the prior two years, led by Toronto (up 20 percentage points) and Montreal (up 18 percentage points).

Three Canadian markets were spotlighted as Next 10 Tech Markets to Watch: Waterloo Region took the No. 1 spot for tech employment clustering, with a high-tech services workforce of 19,800 representing 28.4% of the Region’s total office employment. Ottawa was No. 2, with 39,000 high-tech workers representing 27.5% of all office employment in the city. And Calgary was No. 3 on the Markets to Watch list, with a tech workforce of 33,200 people representing 19.1% of all office jobs in the city.

“The Tech-30 report confirms that Canadian cities continue to produce and attract some of the best and brightest tech workers in the world,” says CBRE Canada Vice Chairman Paul Morassutti. “While there is a lot of uncertainty swirling around, we can take some comfort knowing that our economy is underpinned by a robust and innovative tech workforce.”

CBRE's Tech-30 report measures the industry’s impact on office demand and rents in the 30 leading tech markets in the U.S. and Canada, as well as select tech-heavy submarkets. CBRE’s analysis found that, over the past two years, more than two thirds of the top 30 North American tech markets registered office-rent growth. Seven of those increased by double-digit percentages.

Seven North American markets posted rent growth of 10% or more between Q2 2020 and Q2 2022, led by Vancouver, which saw an eye-popping 21.6% rent growth. Montreal saw 5.7% growth in its office market rents. While Toronto paled in comparison, with 1.9% office rent growth in the same period.

Several tech markets registered positive net absorption between 2020 and 2022, meaning companies in those markets moved into more space than they vacated. Six Tech-30 markets exceeded that threshold, including Vancouver. So did seven tech-heavy submarkets, with Vancouver’s Broadway Corridor among them.

Canada Drives Hiring Momentum

Hiring momentum persists in many markets, including a dozen top U.S. and Canadian tech hubs that registered double-digit percentage gains in tech employment in 2020 and 2021, led by Vancouver, Toronto, Austin, Seattle and Montreal.

“Even amid challenges of the past two years, the tech industry continues to add jobs and lease office space,” said Colin Yasukochi, Executive Director of CBRE’s Tech Insights Center. “Since early 2020, tech has accounted for roughly one of every three office-using jobs created in the U.S. There is potential for pent-up demand to emerge once companies set their long-term hybrid work practices and economic growth picks up. Venture capital funding is on track for the second highest annual total on record after last year’s peak.”

Office space available for sublease in the Tech-30 markets increased 4.9 percent to 142 million sq. ft. in this year’s second quarter from a year earlier, the highest total since CBRE started tracking the figures in 2012. Tech companies account for 20 percent of that total. Leases on nearly half of that tech-industry sublease space are scheduled to expire by 2025, reverting to the building owners.

CBRE’s report also identifies markets well positioned for resiliency and continued growth based on tech job growth and momentum, office market performance and demand recovery. Those include Vancouver, Silicon Valley, San Diego, Boston and Raleigh-Durham.

To read the Tech-30 report, click here.

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