Allstate considered Chicago and Dallas before picking Charlotte for an expansion expected to add 2,250 jobs over the next few years, one of the biggest economic-development boosts in city history. A number of the jobs will be in information technology, and a key reason for the region's attractiveness is its supply of tech-savvy workers, says Harriet Henry, a senior human-resources executive at Allstate. Others are coming to the same conclusion, with Charlotte adding tech jobs at the fastest clip of 50 metro areas over the last five years, according to a study by the CBRE real-estate company. The area added about 21,700 tech jobs between 2011-16, a 77% increase.
The boost reflects considerable hiring by the city's financial-services companies, large corporations and an emerging startup scene, according to Colin Yasukochi, the CBRE analyst who authored the report. CBRE identifies about 50,000 tech workers in the city, about 20% fewer than in the Raleigh-Durham market. The Triangle's tech job market grew 51% over the last five years.
The report also cites rapid increases in millennial populations living in downtown areas in both markets, up 12% in Charlotte and 11% in Raleigh-Durham. The U.S. average was 4.6%. (CBRE identifies millennials as those aged 20 to 29.) While apartment rents have soared in recent years, Charlotte's average rate of about $1,035 a month ranks 34th-highest of the 50 markets; the Triangle was 33rd. CBRE believes that tech employment is growing more quickly outside Silicon Valley, Boston and other traditionally dominant markets because Charlotte, Atlanta and other areas are less expensive and therefore more attractive for many workers.
"Tech employees typically ask how much they will be paid, and do [they] like the quality of life in a certain city. And a lot of tech workers are saying yes to the major North Carolina cities," Yasukochi says.