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Silicon Valley still tops Seattle, DC, Austin for tech talent thanks to $111K salaries

Silicon Valley’s increasingly expensive costs of living are still outweighed by its high average tech salaries and concentration of jobs in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), according to a new analysis.

Silicon Valley’s abnormally high pay for tech talent, paired with the region’s wealth of jobs, still outweighs recent labor controversies and rapidly rising costs of living when compared to budding technology hubs like Seattle, Washington D.C. and Austin, according to a new analysis of federal data.

San Francisco financial literacy startup NerdWallet compared the appeal of major metro areas for talent in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), which ranked the San Jose metro area No. 1 by a long shot.

The region received high marks for its $111,745 average annual wage for STEM jobs, which far outpaced even San Francisco’s mean $101,280 as of 2013, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics salary data analyzed for the report.

Overall, the top 10 hubs on the list, in order, were: San Jose, Seattle, Washington D.C., Houston, San Francisco, Austin, Boston, Raleigh, Denver and Dayton, Ohio. See the chart at the bottom of this story for a full breakdown of how the cities stack up when it comes to pay, STEM jobs and costs of living.

On top of the higher STEM earning potential in Silicon Valley, the region also received good marks for the breadth of its tech industry. About 17.3 percent of jobs in Silicon Valley were in STEM fields as of last year. Seattle had the second-largest share of tech jobs with 12.7 percent.

Still, it’s worth noting that reports like NerdWallet’s often don’t take into account complicated issues that have become part of Silicon Valley’s employment landscape, including wage-fixing lawsuits involving Apple Inc., Google Inc., Intel Corp. and others, plus perennial thorny economic issues like income inequality and transportation.


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