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Houston ranks No. 2 nationally for growing tech markets during COVID-19 pandemic

Written by: Leonard Parker | Houston Business News | May 14, 2021

Houston isn't the first city to come to mind when you think of a tech hub, but that soon may change. 

Nearly half of tech workers moved during the pandemic, according to an April survey by non-profit One America Works, and Houston has seen an increase in its own base of workers employed in technological fields. The shift for tech workers comes as the pandemic brought quality of life issues to the forefront for employers. 

As first reported by John Egan at CultureMap, Houston ranks second among 14 major U.S. labor markets for the number of relocating software and IT workers between March 2020 and February 2021 compared to a year ago. 

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"Issues we used to think of as secondary, like quality of life, are increasingly primary," she said. "We're seeing that drive the dynamic around the tech sector nationwide," CEO of Tech:NYC, Julie Samuels, told Axios. 

Linkedin data also shows that more workers in the software and IT services sectors have moved into Miami, Houston, Dallas, L.A., and Denver between March 2020 and February 2021 than in the previous year.  

Houston is second behind Miami in gaining software and IT employees in the last year, increasing its population of tech-oriented workers by 10.4 percent.

But this is no surprise — Houston is on its way toward truly becoming a tech hub. Rebecca Carballo at the Houston Chronicle reported in March that Houston is home to "more than 50 SDOs, including The Cannon, Downtown launchpad, East End Maker Hub and the soon-to-open Ion, the Rice University project that will anchor a 16-acre innovation district in Midtown." 

The Greater Houston Partnership's March Tech Report mentions that "Houston has been a center for world-changing innovations in energy, life sciences and aerospace for over a century. With science and engineering breakthroughs ingrained in the fabric of Houston’s economy, the region has become a thriving hub of digital technology talent and companies thanks to our access to customers and expertise." 

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Whether Houston is next up to become America's preeminent tech hub remains to be seen.

"I clearly see momentum building and it's hard for me to imagine that the pandemic won't be a permanent accelerant of people moving to places that have been historically overlooked," AOL co-founder Steve Case told Axios. "But it's still hard to predict the two or three cities that will be the next truly viable tech hubs."

"It's a shake-the-snowglobe moment."