Report Analyzing Online Job Ads Predicts DC and Boston as Most Likely to Land Amazon’s HQ2

April 20, 2018

Jon Glass

Tech Leader

Corporate Managing Director, Savills Studley

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The Conference Board – Given the relatively large number of ads for headquarter caliber occupations and the growth rate in those ads, the Washington, DC metro area and Boston seem the most likely candidates for a second headquarters.  Amazon’s current footprint in these cities could ease the hiring of 50,000 new employees and growing demand signals their desire to increase their presence. This is potentially indicative of a labor market suitable for a second Amazon headquarters.

Amazon is expecting their second headquarters to be a “full equal” to their Seattle campus. Therefore, the labor demands are likely to be very similar. According to Amazon, jobs for HQ2 will fall under management, engineering (preference for software development), legal, accounting, and administrative type occupations. Measuring Amazon’s labor demands at their current headquarters can allow us to gauge what demand at HQ2 might look like.

Read the full report here.


This report has been making the rounds in Washington. Being named as one of two cities with the best chances to land the HQ2 requirement, and the 50,000 new jobs that comes with it, is bound to make headlines. However, I question how much stock we can really put into evaluating online job ads and how they compare against Amazon’s historical job postings offered in Seattle. While an interesting perspective, it is just a small piece to a much the larger, complex puzzle that will ultimately determine the winning city.

The presence of a deep pool of educated workers will undoubtedly have an impact on the HQ2 decision. Washington, DC certainly has this, but so do the majority of the other cities under consideration. San Francisco and San Jose, two cities that were ruled out by Amazon, have over 20% of the job ads for the top four occupations sought by Amazon, yet it does not seem that was significant enough for them to remain in the hunt.

While the city’s labor force and university system will be major influences in Amazon’s HQ2 decision, I believe the deciding factors will ultimately come down to economic incentives and real estate infrastructure. The jurisdiction that provides the most appealing incentives – land, tax breaks, and other subsidies – while also having the infrastructure – residential, commercial and transport – to accommodate Amazon’s operations will come out on top. 

Every city has its perceived edge; Jeff Bezos’ ownership of the Washington Post in DC, Whole Foods’ headquarters in Austin, affordable housing in Atlanta, and so on.  Looking for another edge by reading between the lines of want-ads is certainly clever, but just how much of an influence it will have on the collective process is up for debate. My guess is not that much. 







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