• Chicago

Chicago: A Hidden Gem for Tech Talent

By: Michael McDermott, Director, Strategic Consulting and Erica Ruder, Director, Strategic Consulting

Skilled tech talent is crucial across all industries, not just technology-focused firms. The U.S. has added over 1 million tech related jobs, a 27% employment increase, over the past 10 years. As labor attraction and retention drive location decisions, companies seek markets that offer sizable talent pools at a reasonable cost. U.S. tech titans, such as Silicon Valley, San Francisco and Seattle, top the lists; however, the labor costs are high— 15% to 30% above the U.S. average. Conversely, more affordable markets often do not provide sufficiently sized labor pools with the required skillsets. Cushman & Wakefield’s Strategic Consulting team takes a closer look at Chicago’s tech scene in Chicago Workforce Insights and finds BIG TALENT for a BARGAIN.

Chicago offers a wide talent pool and an affordable environment in comparison to the traditional tech hubs. Larger in technology employment than all markets but Silicon Valley, San Francisco, Los Angeles, DC and New York City and only 6% more expensive than the U.S. labor cost average, Chicago is at a unique intersection of size and affordability. These attributes, combined with its incredibly diversified economy, perfectly position the city for tech growth.

A Solid Foundation for Growth

  • Chicago’s talent and opportunity lie mainly within the business-to-business model, rather than the typical business-to-consumer model, branding Chicago as a “Business Tech” hub.
  • B2B tech includes global names like Google, Microsoft, and Salesforce as well as local standouts Personify, Gogo, and Mailchimp.
  • Chicago is a hot bed for technology innovation centers such as 1871, MATTER, UI LABS, Blue 1647, mHUB and the Chicago Connectory.

Accessibility to the right workforce is a primary concern for nearly all C-Suite executives. The right location can improve a company’s ability to hire employees with target skills and attributes. Cushman & Wakefield Strategic Consulting provides clients with detailed and actionable insight into global, national, and local labor markets. We analyze labor markets from two complementary perspectives: job skills and demographics. These factors measure experienced talent and trainable labor in a market which provides a critical foundation for smart decision making.

Cushman & Wakefield’s Strategic Consulting team uses its labor analytics capabilities to ensure a company’s real estate decision aligns with its talent objectives and enables the organization to capture and retain its targeted workforce.

Michael McDermott is a Director in Cushman & Wakefield’s Strategic Consulting group. Mr. McDermott has 11 years’ experience in strategically aligning real estate with the operational needs of corporate owners and tenants. He is responsible for management of site selection, portfolio optimization and workplace analysis projects from the initial investigation through successful completion. His areas of expertise include headquarters location strategy, labor analytics, urban planning and portfolio rationalization using business intelligence software.


Erica Ruder is a Director in Cushman & Wakefield’s Strategic Consulting group. Erica has more than 10 years’ experience in corporate real estate in both strategy and investment related roles. Focused on the intersection of human capital, real estate and location, Erica develops data-driven recommendations to improve her clients’ real estaterelated operations. Specifically, Ms. Ruder’s area of expertise is centered on the relationship between human resource strategy and labor markets for the purpose of improving corporate real estate portfolios and building competitive advantages.

  • Chicago

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