Ottawa ranked top in North America for rapid tech employment growth

Shopify

A new report says the tech sector in Canada’s capital has more momentum than in any other city across the continent.

Real estate services firm CBRE released a tech talent scorecard this week that ranked major North American markets across 13 metrics including tech job growth, education levels, office rents, population trends, and housing costs.

Overall, Ottawa ranked 13th among 50 markets surveyed based on its depth of talent, vitality and attractiveness to employers. That’s second-highest position for a Canadian city and puts Ottawa behind Toronto, which ranked fourth overall. The San Francisco Bay area, Seattle and New York led CBRE’s list.

But if the last two years are any indication, Ottawa may be be poised to climb the rankings.

Canada’s capital ranked No. 1 among North American tech hubs with the most “momentum.” CBRE calculates that score by taking the percentage of tech employment growth from the two most recent years and subtracting tech employment growth from the previous two years.

According to Statistics Canada data cited by CBRE, Ottawa’s tech employment jumped 15.2 per cent in 2016-17, a dramatic turnaround from the 10 per cent contraction in 2014-15. That produced a score of 25.2 – more than double that of the second-place city, Los Angeles.

CBRE says tech has been the top driver of U.S. office leasing activity in the last five years. Large tech markets are also typically where rental rates are appreciated the fastest.

In Ottawa, the sector is reshaping the downtown office market, where tech firms – led by the likes of Shopify, Klipfolio, Telesat and SurveyMonkey – now occupy more space than legal and accounting firms combined, according to CBRE.

In absolute terms, Toronto added the most technology jobs in the past five years among all Canadian and U.S. cities, gaining 82,100 technology-related positions between 2012 and 2017.

The lower loonie helped Canadian cities in the study rank by making this country’s wages comparatively lower to those in the U.S.