Welcome to the LinkedIn Talent Economy Spotlight.

This is a monthly report that examines the latest labor statistics and combines it with our own data to surface new insights about the regions, industries and skills that are shaping and defining the U.S. labor market.

In this month's report, we explore the major metros where technology talent is flocking, the multi-industry race to hire software engineers and the unique skills these professionals are developing.


Talent continues flocking west to top technology cities

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that from August 2014 through August 2015, jobs in the U.S. technology sector have increased by 4.1 percent, up to 3.8 million jobs.

These jobs, however, are not evenly distributed across the country, and tech talent is often flocking to a select few cities.

A closer examination of LinkedIn member data shows that some of the largest metros for tech talent are places you might expect, cities like San Francisco and Seattle. However, some historically strong tech metros like Atlanta, Boston and New York City are surprisingly flat.

Meanwhile, smaller tech metros like Madison, Wis. and Portland, Ore. have been increasingly attracting talent. If this talent migration continues, these cities have the potential to become the Silicon Valleys of the future.

"Portland is rapidly becoming the city du jour for fast-growing tech companies looking for talent. Google became the latest company to tap the Portland talent pool with a new downtown engineering office."

Technology Talent Migration
City tech sector membership (in thousands) arrivals (in thousands) departures (in thousands) net migrants (in thousands) net migrants (pct of tech pop)
San Francisco Bay Area 786.2 40.7 17.2 23.4 3.00%
Greater Seattle Area 247.7 13.3 6.2 7.1 2.90%
Austin, Texas Area 149.3 7.5 4 3.5 2.40%
Dallas/Fort Worth Area 266.3 8.2 5.7 2.5 0.90%
Greater Denver Area 149.1 5.1 3.4 1.7 1.10%
Greater New York City Area 657.1 20.4 18.7 1.7 0.30%
Portland, Oregon Area 114.3 4 2.4 1.7 1.50%
Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina Area 105.2 4.2 2.9 1.3 1.20%
Greater Atlanta Area 245.2 6.6 5.4 1.2 0.50%
Charlotte, North Carolina Area 67.2 2.8 2 0.8 1.20%
Houston, Texas Area 147.8 4.3 3.6 0.8 0.50%
Tampa/St. Petersburg, Florida Area 85.2 2.6 1.9 0.7 0.90%
Greater Boston Area 326.5 9.1 8.4 0.7 0.20%
Phoenix, Arizona Area 139.7 4.1 3.5 0.6 0.40%
Madison, Wisconsin Area 25.1 1.7 1.1 0.6 2.30%


New (and old) industries collide over software engineering talent

As of May 2014, there were approximately 1.5 million software engineers in the U.S., however, only a small majority (55 percent) actually worked in technology. The remainder worked across a variety of industries representing nearly every sector of the economy.

As we look more closely at the industries employing software engineering talent, there are patterns of hiring intensity in a select few sectors.

Not surprisingly, the technology sector leads the pack — nearly 1 out of every 10 new hires is a software engineer.

Hiring intensity is also increasing in telecommunications where approximately 1 out of every 20 new hires is a software engineer. In the aerospace, automotive and transportation sectors, it's 1 out of every 25 new hires.

Software Engineer Hiring Activity
Sector software engineering hires per 1000 hires
Technology 107
Telecommunications 49
Aero/Auto/Transport 39
Oil & Energy 25
Financial Services & Insurance 23
Media & Entertainment 18
Manufacturing/Industrial 17
Architecture & Engineering 16
Professional Services 16
Healthcare & Pharmaceutical 13
Retail & Consumer Products 12
Government/Education/Non-profit 10
Based on hiring activity conducted between Oct 1, 2014 and Sept 30, 2015.


A closer look at the hard and soft skills of software engineers

As we noted in our “industries” coverage, software engineers are present in nearly every sector of the economy - not just the technology sector. As a result, these professionals often acquire other industry-specific skills. With this in mind, we've taken a look at some of the ancillary skills that software engineers typically have, and then surfaced some of the more surprising findings.

To accomplish this, we identified the 500 most common, non-software engineering-related skills found on the profiles of U.S. LinkedIn members. We then compared the proportion of the general membership who have a given skill with the equivalent proportion of software engineers.

Not surprisingly, software engineers tend to have a lot of general math and engineering skills (particularly aerospace and civil engineering). For example, software engineers are 7 times more likely to have Matlab on their profile than your average U.S. LinkedIn member. This is one of many reasons why the tech industry is pushing for increased investment in general STEM education. (For reference, jQuery, a common web programming skill, is almost 50 times more likely to be found on a software engineer's profile vs. everyone else.)

Non-Software Engineering Skills
Skills commonly found on the LinkedIn profiles of software engineers
Skill Skill category Ratio vs. US general population
Matlab Mathematics 7.6
Systems Engineering Engineering Systems 6.6
Web Design Digital and Online Design and Publishing 5.9
Automation Automation Design 4.7
Electrical Engineering Electronic and Electrical Engineering 4.6
Software Documentation Microsoft Office and General Business Productivity 4.3
SolidWorks Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering 3.9
SEO SEO/SEM Marketing 3.9
Mechanical Engineering Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering 3.7
Business Analysis Management Consulting, Business Strategy and Analysis 3.7
Engineering Management Lean Manufacturing and Quality Management 3.6
E-commerce Microsoft Office and General Business Productivity 3.3
Project Engineering Process and Project Management 3.2
Civil Engineering Construction 3.2
Electronics Electronic and Electrical Engineering 3.1
Engineering Engineering 3
CAD Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering 2.9
Aerospace Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering 2.8
Access Microsoft Office and General Business Productivity 2.8
Technical Writing Microsoft Office and General Business Productivity 2.7
Non-Software Engineering Skills (continued)
Skills *unlikely* to be found on a software engineer's LinkedIn profile
Skill Skill category Ratio vs. US software engineers
Appeals Litigation 49.1
Commercial Litigation Litigation 41.6
Trials Litigation 38.4
Listings Real Estate, Home Buying 31
Courts Litigation 30.3
Civil Litigation Litigation 28.7
Family Therapy Mental Health and Psychotherapy 28.6
New Home Sales Real Estate, Home Buying 27.6
Litigation Litigation 24.6
Buyer Representation Real Estate, Home Buying 24.1
Liability Insurance 23.2
Adolescents Mental Health and Psychotherapy 22.8
Corporate Law Corporate Law and Governance 22.5
Referrals Real Estate, Home Buying 22.4
Group Therapy Mental Health and Psychotherapy 22.4
Mental Health Counseling Mental Health and Psychotherapy 22
Legal Assistance Legal Advice and Services 21.8
First Time Home Buyers Real Estate, Home Buying 21.7
Commercial Lending Banking 21.4
Treatment General Medical and Healthcare 20.5


The “tech sector” contains the following industries as defined on LinkedIn: information services, information technology and services, computer networking, internet, e-learning, computer software, electrical and electronic manufacturing, computer games, computer hardware, semiconductors). Membership data current as of August 2015.

When looking at BLS data, we define high-tech industries using a modification of Hecker (2005). Hecker’s definition includes those sectors with a high prevalence of workers who “in-depth knowledge of the theories and principles of science, engineering, and mathematics underlying technology.” This leads him to include sectors such as pharmaceutical manufacturing and aerospace manufacturing, but we excluded them in our BLS data “high tech” estimate in order to align it to both the common-parlance definition of that term as well as LinkedIn’s own classification.