Forbes | Kurt Badenhausen | October 24
“The Seattle economy grew 6.6% last year or 5.2% net of inflation, three times as fast as the median U.S. city. Incomes are stagnant in the U.S., but not in the Emerald City, where they increased 4.7% annually the past five years. Yes, business and living costs are high, but the talented workforce more than compensates and helps Seattle land the top spot in Forbes’ 20th annual Best Places for Business and Careers. Seattle moves up two spots from last year and is number one overall for the first time. The Seattle area has a rich history of innovation, well before Amazon become a retail behemoth. The roots of iconic American brands Boeing, Costco, Microsoft, Nordstrom and Starbucks are all found in the Seattle area.”
Lifestyle | The natural beauty of Seattle – it’s surrounded by both mountains and water on two sides – is one of the biggest draws for residents. Less than an hour from downtown, residents escape for the day or weekend to wineries, ski resorts, hiking trails and sprawling parks.
Cost of Living | The Seattle area supports 165,264 high tech software and services jobs, a figure that accounts for 42 percent of all office jobs in the area. With wages of $130,915, Seattle software engineers command more than counterparts in all other markets in the report except San Francisco and Silicon Valley.
Average tech talent salary in Seattle is $117.3K – just $7.1K below that of Silicon Valley. But this is not taking into consideration the 0 percent state income tax compared to 7.5 percent state income tax in Silicon Valley.
For an average apartment, Seattle’s monthly rent is $1,100 less per month than San Francisco, and office space cost is about half.
Talent | Seattle is the most educated market in the nation with 63.1% of all residents possessing at least a Bachelor’s Degree. The Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, founded by the late Paul Allen, keeps growing and launching ambitious initiatives, and the University of Washington’s computer science school is one of the leading AI research hubs. Seattle has the 2nd highest concentration of high-quality software engineers.
These are defined as professionals with 3-5 years of experience who graduated from one of the top 25 computer science schools. The University of Washington alone is generating more than 450 high-quality engineers per year, as its computer science department is ranked #6 in the US ahead of many Ivy League schools. The talented workforce more than compensates and helps Seattle land the top spot in Forbes’ 20th annual Best Places for Business and Careers.
Cloud Capital of the World | Seattle has long been known as the “cloud capital of the world,” but it is also turning into a hub for AI and ML. There are a bevy of Seattle-area startups developing related technologies. Amazon continues to bolster its industry-leading voice assistant platform, Alexa. Microsoft is making a huge investment in AI as it aims to bring the technology into everything it develops. Both tech giants also host the leading cloud computing platforms with AWS and Azure, key components to any AI or ML-related products and services.
In Conclusion | Gates and Bezos chose not to relocate to California’s rapidly growing start-up state or stay in Albuquerque, New Mexico. They succeeded in building their empires in (and around) Seattle because of proximity to and high concentration of technology talent.