The U.S. States with the Top Tech Salaries in 2021
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The U.S. States with the Top Tech Salaries in 2021

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Average Tech Salary Across the US Best Paying States

The U.S. States with the Top Tech Salaries in 2021

In 2020, despite the economic turmoil caused by the global pandemic, America’s tech sector experienced rapid growth. Last year, the total number of U.S. tech jobs grew by 60,000.

Because of this demand, U.S. employers are willing to pay for the right talent—on average, tech workers in the U.S. earn about 61% more than the average salary. But some tech workers make more than others, depending on where they live.

This graphic by business.org uses data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to highlight the average annual tech salaries in each state, compared to the average salary of other occupations. We’ll also touch on the top-paying metro areas, and what type of tech jobs offer the highest compensation across the country.

Average U.S. Tech Salaries by State

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Washington and California have the highest average salaries, largely because of the high job density in those areas.

However, when it comes to the difference in tech salary versus average salary, Alabama takes the top spot—on average, tech jobs pay 85% more than other occupations in that state.

RankStateAverage hourly wage for tech workersAverage salary for tech workers% more that tech workers earn than all occupations
1Alabama$41.69$86,72085%
2Washington$58.96$122,64083%
3North Carolina$44.19$91,92080%
4Texas$45.04$93,69079%
5Virginia$51.50$107,13078%
6California$56.16$116,82078%
7Georgia$44.00$91,51076%
8Delaware$47.76$99,34075%
9Mississippi$34.48$71,72072%
10Ohio$41.48$86,27067%
11Idaho$37.65$78,32067%
12New Hampshire$45.50$94,65067%
13South Carolina$37.06$77,08067%
14Iowa$39.34$81,82066%
15Florida$39.81$82,81066%
16Maryland$50.55$105,15065%
17Colorado$48.33$100,52065%
18Arkansas$35.28$73,39064%
19Kentucky$36.21$75,33064%
20Missouri$39.44$82,04064%
21New Jersey$50.04$104,09063%
22Pennsylvania$42.29$87,97063%
23Arizona$41.84$87,03063%
24Oregon$44.25$92,04062%
25West Virginia$35.29$73,41062%
26Kansas$37.70$78,42061%
27Tennessee$36.86$76,66061%
28Utah$39.82$82,83061%
29Minnesota$45.47$94,57061%
30Indiana$37.66$78,34061%
31Nebraska$38.83$80,77061%
32Illinois$44.87$93,32061%
33Wisconsin$39.55$82,27061%
34Oklahoma$36.33$75,56060%
35New Mexico$38.06$79,16059%
36Louisiana$35.50$73,84059%
37Nevada$38.29$79,65058%
38Maine$38.48$80,03056%
39South Dakota$33.65$70,00056%
40Rhode Island$44.43$92,41053%
41Michigan$39.32$81,78053%
42New York$49.65$103,28052%
43Montana$34.40$71,54051%
44Massachusetts$50.67$105,40051%
45Vermont$38.55$80,18050%
46Connecticut$45.94$95,55046%
47Hawaii$40.32$83,87044%
48North Dakota$34.53$71,82037%
49Alaska$40.02$83,25035%
50Wyoming$32.52$67,64032%
51District of Columbia$54.78$113,93020%

Why are tech workers so generously compensated in Alabama? It could be because the area’s talent pool is not keeping up with demand.

In 2021, Huntsville, Alabama is expected to see 25,000 new jobs in aerospace, logistics, defense, and other tech-related industries. But these jobs could be difficult to fill given the area’s low unemployment rate.

On the other end of the spectrum, the District of Columbia has the smallest discrepancy between tech and other salaries. But at $95,330, the area has the highest average yearly salary for other occupations in the country—and tech workers still make 20% more.

Top 10 Metro Areas for Tech Salaries

Some of the highest-paying states are also home to the highest-paying metro areas.

For instance, when it comes to pay differences in tech, two of the top 10 metro areas are located in Washington state, while three are in California. The graphic below shows the metros with the highest difference between the area’s average salary and the average salary of tech jobs.

Top Tech Salaries

The highest pay difference between tech jobs vs the average salary is in San Jose, where tech workers make 507% more on average. This figure is almost certainly skewed because of the area’s high concentration of tech millionaires and top tier programmers.

Highest Paying Tech Jobs Nationally

Of course, location isn’t the only factor that plays into salary—the type of job is important, too. Here’s a look at U.S. tech salaries, organized by job type:

Highest Paying Tech Jobs US

In this analysis, which looked at jobs in computer science as well as mathematics, actuaries are the highest paid professionals on average.

While actuaries are more on the mathematical and financial side of the equation, more commonly associated jobs with tech are all over the list as well: software developers, computer network architects, information security analysts, data scientists, computer programmers, web developers, computer systems analysts, and so on.

The Future of Tech is Bright

America’s information technology sector, worth about $1.6 trillion, is expected to grow to $5 trillion by the end of 2021. And as this fast-growing industry continues to boom, jobs in this sector are likely to remain in high supply.

Augmented Reality (AR) in the U.S. is looking especially promising and is projected to grow by a CAGR of 100% between 2021-2025.

In short, tech is expected to keep growing. And salaries will likely follow suit.

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Personal Finance

How Do Americans Spend Their Money, By Generation?

This interactive graphic shows a breakdown of how average Americans spend their money, and how expenses vary across generations.

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Annual Expenditure in the U.S. by Generation

How Americans Spend Their Money, By Generation

In 2021, the average American spent just over $60,000 a year. But where does all their money go? Unsurprisingly, spending habits vary wildly depending on age.

This graphic by Preethi Lodha uses data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to show how average Americans spend their money, and how annual expenses vary across generations.

A Generational Breakdown of Overall Spending

Overall in 2021, Gen X (anyone born from 1965 to 1980) spent the most money of any U.S. generation, with an average annual expenditure of $83,357.

GenerationBirth Year RangeAverage Annual Expenditure (2021)
Silent1945 or earlier$44,683
Boomers1946 to 1964$62,203
Generation X1965 to 1980$83,357
Millennials1981 to 1996$69,061
Generation Z1997 or later$41,636

Gen X has been nicknamed the “sandwich generation” because many members of this age group are financially supporting both their aging parents as well as children of their own.

The second biggest spenders are Millennials with an average annual expenditure of $69,061. Just like Gen X, this generation’s top three spending categories are housing, healthcare, and personal insurance.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, members of Generation Z are the lowest spenders with an average of $41,636. per year. Their spending habits are expected to ramp up, especially considering that in 2022 the oldest Gen Zers are just 25 and still early in their careers.

Similarities Across Generations

While spending habits vary depending on the age group, there are some categories that remain fairly consistent across the board.

One of the most consistent spending categories is housing—it’s by the far the biggest expense for all age groups, accounting for more than 30% of total annual spending for every generation.

GenerationAverage Spend on Housing (2021)% of Total Spend
Silent (1945 or earlier)$16,65637.3%
Boomers (1946 to 1964)$21,27334.2%
Generation X (1965 to 1980)$26,38531.7%
Millennials (1981 to 1996)$24,05234.8%
Generation Z (1997 or later)$15,44937.1%

Another spending category that’s surprisingly consistent across every generation is entertainment. All generations spent more than 4% of their total expenditures on entertainment, but none dedicated more than 5.6%.

GenerationAverage Spend on Entertainment (2021)% of Total Spend
Silent (1945 or earlier)$2,0274.5%
Boomers (1946 to 1964)$3,4765.6%
Generation X (1965 to 1980)$4,6945.6%
Millennials (1981 to 1996)$3,4575.0%
Generation Z (1997 or later)$1,6934.1%

Gen Zers spent the least on entertainment, which could boil down to the types of entertainment this generation typically enjoys. For instance, a study found that 51% of respondents aged 13-19 watch videos on Instagram on a weekly basis, while only 15% watch cable TV.

Differences Across Generations

One category that varies the most between generations and relative needs is spending on healthcare.

As the table below shows, the Silent Generation spent an average of $7,053 on healthcare, or 15.8% of their total average spend. Comparatively, Gen Z only spent $1,354 on average, or 3.3% of their total average spend.

GenerationAverage Spend on Healthcare (2021)% of Total Spend
Silent (1945 or earlier)$7,05315.8%
Boomers (1946 to 1964)$6,59410.6%
Generation X (1965 to 1980)$5,5506.7%
Millennials (1981 to 1996)$4,0265.8%
Generation Z (1997 or later)$1,3543.3%

However, while the younger generations typically spend less on healthcare, they’re also less likely to be insured—so those who do get sick could be left with a hefty bill.

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Markets

The Biggest Tech Talent Hubs in the U.S. and Canada

6.5 million skilled tech workers currently work in the U.S. and Canada. Here we look at the largest tech hubs across the two countries

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The Biggest Tech Talent Hubs in the U.S. and Canada

The tech workforce just keeps growing. In fact, there are now an estimated 6.5 million tech workers between the U.S. and Canada — 5.5 million of which work in the United States.

This infographic draws from a report by CBRE to determine which tech talent markets in the U.S. and Canada are the largest. The data looks at total workforce in the sector, as well as the change in tech worker population over time in various cities.

The report also classifies which metro areas and regions can rightly be considered tech hubs in the first place, by looking at a variety of factors including cost of living, average educational attainment, and tech employment levels as a share of different industries.

The Top Tech Hubs in the U.S.

Silicon Valley, in California’s Bay Area, remains the most prominent (and expensive) U.S. tech hub, with a talent pool of nearly 380,000 tech workers.

Here’s a look at the top tech talent markets in the country in terms of total worker population:

🇺🇸 MarketTotal Tech Talent% Talent Growth (2016-2021)
SF Bay Area378,87013%
New York Metro344,5203%
Washington D.C. 259,3106%
Los Angeles235,80010%
Seattle189,57032%
Dallas/Ft. Worth187,95015%
Chicago167,5606%
Boston166,4502%
Atlanta145,0807%
Denver117,62023%
Philadelphia115,450 7%
Minneapolis100,9905%
Phoenix99,60018%
Houston98,930-2%
Detroit 93,7705%
Austin 84,68021%
Baltimore79,0008%
San Diego77,780 16%
Raleigh/Durham69,05011%
Portland67,410 28%
South Florida66,660 8%
Charlotte61,95022%
Salt Lake City55,93029%
St. Louis53,9102%
Kansas City52,5000%
Tampa 52,24013%
Columbus50,3904%

America’s large, coastal cities still contain the lion’s share of tech talent, but mid-sized tech hubs like Salt Lake City, Portland, and Denver have put up strong growth numbers in recent years. Seattle, which is home to both Amazon and Microsoft, posted an impressive 32% growth rate over the last five years.

Emerging tech hubs include areas like Raleigh-Durham. The two cities have nearly 70,000 employed tech workers and a strong talent pipeline, seeing a 28% increase in degree completions in fields like Math/Statistics and Computer Engineering year-over-year to 2020. In fact, the entire state of North Carolina is becoming an increasingly attractive business hub.

Houston was the one city on this list that had a negative growth rate, at -2%.

The Top Tech Hubs in Canada

Tech giants like Google, Meta, and Amazon are continuously and aggressively growing their presence in Canada, further solidifying the country’s status as the next big destination for tech talent. Here are the country’s four tech hubs with a total worker population of more than 50,000:

🇨🇦 MarketTotal Tech Talent% Talent Growth (2016-2021)
Toronto289,70044%
Montreal148,90027%
Vancouver115,40063%
Ottawa81,20022%

Toronto saw the most absolute growth tech positions in 2021, adding 88,900 jobs. The tech sector in Canada’s largest city has seen a lot of momentum in recent years, and is now ranked by CBRE as North America’s #3 tech hub, after the SF Bay Area and New York City.

Vancouver’s tech talent population increased the most from its original figure, climbing 63%. Seattle-based companies like Microsoft and Amazon have established sizable offices in the city, adding to the already thriving tech scene. Furthermore, Google is set to build a submarine high-speed fiber optic cable connecting Canada to Asia, with a terminus in Vancouver.

Not to be left behind, Ottawa has also taken giant strides to increase their tech talent and stamp their presence. The country’s capital even has the highest concentration of tech employment in its workforce, thanks in part to the success of Shopify.

Map showing tech employment concentration in the U.S. and Canada

The small, but well-known tech hub of Waterloo also had a very high concentration on tech employment (9.6%). The region has seen its tech workforce grow by 8% over the past five years.

Six out of the top 10 cities by tech workforce concentration are located in Canada.

Evolution of Tech Hubs

The post-COVID era has seen a shifting definition of what a tech hub means. It’s clear that remote work is here to stay, and as workers migrate to chase affordability and comfort, traditional tech hubs are seeing some decline — or at least slower growth — in their population of tech workers.

While it isn’t evident that there is a mass exodus of tech talent from traditional coastal hubs, the rise in high-paying tech jobs in smaller markets across the country could point to a trend and is positive for the industry.

While more workers with great talent, resources, and education continue to opt for cost-friendly places to reside and work remotely, will newer markets like Charlotte, Tennessee, and Calgary see a rise of tech companies, or will large corporations and startups alike continue to opt for the larger cities on the coast?

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