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July 18, 2019

Hartford has tech-talent momentum, but challenges remain

HBJ File Photo Downtown Hartford's skyline.

While a new report from commercial realty broker-advisor CBRE found a growing tech labor force in Hartford, the city’s attractiveness to tech companies and workers still faces a number of challenges.

CBRE’s annual Scoring Tech Talent report evaluated 50 North American markets with the largest tech workforces (Hartford was the sixth smallest on that list) assigning an overall score to each for “depth, vitality and attractiveness to companies seeking tech talent and to tech workers seeking employment.”

On the overall scorecard, Hartford ranked 39th out of 50. That was down from 37th in CBRE’s 2018 report.

One challenge the city faces, according to CBRE’s analysis, is “brain drain.” The number of technology-related college degrees conferred between 2012 and 2017 (10,311) well surpassed the number of new tech jobs added over a similar time frame (2,210).

Hartford also had one of the biggest losses of residents in their 20s between 2012 and 2017, shedding 3.5 percent of that population, though the city’s overall concentration of 20-somethings remained relatively high.

Meanwhile, 20-something populations in Long Island, New York, and Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, grew over that same period by 16 percent and 14.7 percent, respectively. The national average was 2.5 percent.

Hartford also has above average tech wages and rent costs, among the 50 markets assessed.

And its tech “labor quality” ranked on the lower end of the scale. CBRE based its labor quality scoring on the concentration of software engineers and developers with three or more years of experience that have earned degrees from the top 25 computer information science programs, as ranked by U.S. News this year.

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