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The technology sector is notoriously hard to measure because of a debate over whether the definition includes tech jobs at all kinds of firms or only jobs at tech firms. The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not track an overarching tech sector, so economists often analyze and add up subsectors of the Information industry, such as “publishing,” which includes software publishing, and “other information services,” which encompass data processing and web hosting, to get a good measure of tech employment.   

In the report the Center for an Urban Future used a relatively narrow definition for the tech sector, focusing on seven industries: computer manufacturing, electronic shopping, software publishing, data processing and hosting, internet publishing and broadcasting and web search portals, computer systems design and scientific research-and-development services. Broader methods of counting, which include technology jobs at finance firms, for example, have put the employment figure for the city’s “tech ecosystem” as high as 344,000, a report from real estate services firm CBRE found.

Still, even using the narrower definition, the industry grew by 142% in the past decade, more than double the second-fastest-growing sector, motion picture and video, the report found.

In fact, the tech sector accounted for 17% of the city’s entire job growth during this period, the report found.

These jobs also pay well, unlike positions in home health care and other fast-growing industries. Jobs in tech subsectors accounted for nearly all of the fastest-growing industries that paid at least $80,000 annually.

The decade-long boom comes as the tech industry encounters major questions about its future growth. Challenging economic conditions have led to layoffs at Peloton and other firms that have been stalwarts of the city’s recent tech boom. Cryptocurrency and blockchain companies, such as Gemini, that powered job growth from 2016 to 2021 also face a reckoning. The other headwind is the long-term effect of remote work, which has become particularly common at tech-industry offices. Just this week, Meta Platforms Inc. and Amazon pulled back their office expansion plans.

Still, the recent set of data released by CBRE suggests that the people who work in the tech industry continue to flock to the city, no matter their office location.

Using different terms from the Center for Urban Future to calculate tech talent, CBRE found that the city had added 22,090 jobs just between 2019 and 2021, the second-highest number of positions of any city in the U.S. and a figure in sharp contrast to the San Francisco Bay Area, which lost 800 tech jobs in that time period.


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