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Updated Aug. 16, 2017 at 12:45 p.m.

Raleigh rises to No. 4, Durham tumbles in best cities for tech workers survey

Published: 2017-08-16 07:04:00
Updated: 2017-08-16 12:45:21

North Carolina’s capital city, which didn’t even make the top 25 in a 2014 study and was No. 25 just two years ago, is now the nation’s No. 4 best city for tech workers, according to a new study.

Helped by a $4,000 increase in the average tech worker’s wages over the past year, Raleigh rose from seventh place, based on data compiled by SmartAsset.

According to the financial news site, average tech wages rose to $89,000, which is good for second highest among the top 10 cities.

That wage increase lifted tech salaries to a 1.770 ratio higher than overall wages in the city, good for No. 4 on the list.

Also helping Raleigh, the percentage of the overall workforce made up of tech workers also surged, climbing to 5.8 percent from 5.2 percent year-over-year.

Durham, which shared the second spot a year ago, fell to 37th place, a spokesperson for SmartAsset told WTW.

This is the fourth year for the study, which is based on a variety of data.

“In order to find the best cities to work in tech, we looked at data on five different factors,” SmartAsset explained. “We considered the percent of workers employed in tech, the ratio of the average tech salary to the average salary across all fields, the cost of living, the unemployment rate and average salary for tech workers.”

In fact, Raleigh might rank higher were it not for cost of living. Normally considered a strength for the Triangle region based on housing costs and other factors in studies over the years, the COL in the Triangle is now among the highest in the survey at 94.4.

Only one of the top 10 cities had a higher COL than Raleigh, that being Sierra Vista, Az., at 94.9.

Here’s an overview of why Durham fell on a list of 201 cities:

“Compared to last year’s figures, Durham’s cost of living went up significantly and the average tech salary and ratio of tech wage to average wage went down slightly,” the spokesperson explained.

Durham statistics:

  • Percent of workforce in tech: 5.93%
  • Average Tech Salary: $89,470
  • Ratio of Tech Wage to Average Wage: 1.547
  • Cost of Living Index: 95.9 (which represents cost of living as a percentage of the national average, so Durham’s cost of living is 4.1% below the national average)
  • Unemployment Rate (for residents with a bachelor’s degree): 3.14%

Compared to last year’s figures, Durham’s cost of living went up significantly and the average tech salary and ratio of tech wage to average wage went down slightly.

Praise for Raleigh

Top 25 tech cities In the study, SmartAsset praised the capital city for a variety of reasons cited many times over the years by many others.

“Raleigh (along with Durham and Chapel Hill) is home to one of the largest research parks in the world: Research Triangle Park. Within this research park are campuses for some of the largest tech companies in the country, like IBM and Cisco Systems. The research park is in Raleigh because of the proximity to high-quality research institutions like Duke University, University of North Carolina and North Carolina State University,” SmartAsset says.

“All those tech jobs in the area mean Raleigh is a great place to work in tech. About 5.8% of all workers in the city work in tech, the 11th-highest rate in the country. Another plus for tech workers is the pay. On average tech workers earn just over $89,000 per year, the second-highest amount in our top 10. However, that paycheck does not go quite as far in Raleigh as it may in other cities. Raleigh has a cost of living only 6% lower than the national average, a relatively high score for our top 10.”

Charlotte ranked No. 22 in the study.

Raleigh rival Austin, Texas, came in at No. 20.

The top 10

1. Columbus, Ohio

2. Springfield, Ill.

3. Sierra Vista, Az.

4. Raleigh

5. Dallas

6. Huntsville, Ala.

7. Richmond, Va.

8. Wichita Falls, Tx.

9. San Antonio

10. Des Moines, Iowa

Read the full study at:

https://smartasset.com/mortgage/the-best-american-cities-to-work-in-tech-in-2017

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