Denver Lands Top Spot for STEM Job Growth

Colorado-based enterprise software pioneer Nextworld to a long-term lease for 53,546 square feet at Vista 25 at Arapahoe Station (“Vista 25”) in Greenwood Village. Credit: Harbor Associates, LLC.

STEM jobs (an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) have certainly played a critical role in helping to counter and/or live with the impacts of COVID-19. RCLCO Real Estate Consulting, a leading national real estate advisory firm, has announced the results of their 2021 STEM Job Growth Index (STEMdex), which projects which metro area MSAs will have the strongest outlook for growth in STEM jobs.

In this year’s STEMdex, RCLCO expanded its search to include the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the United States. The ten cities topping the list this year are Denver, Seattle, Austin, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., San Jose, Raleigh, Boston, Portland, and Salt Lake City.

Published annually in partnership with office investment management firm CapRidge Partners, the STEMdex tracks and projects STEM job growth trends across the country by analyzing the economies of the largest metropolitan areas to understand which regions are attracting the jobs and employees of the future.

After being ranked #3 in 2020, Denver has moved into the top spot due to strong economic tailwinds, workforce quality, and quality of life. The Colorado Economic Development Commission recently approved job growth incentive tax credits totaling $11.3 million to create jobs statewide, including 140 positions in technology education in Denver. Nextworld, a cloud-based enterprise software firm is opening a new headquarters in Greenwood Village with plans to add 300 high-paying jobs in product development. Smart TV and sound system producer VIZIO is opening their new tech innovation office in Denver intending to create over 100 jobs.

“While it remains far too early to fully assess how the COVID-19 pandemic and any current or future variants will continue to impact our daily lives, another year of data has given us increased confidence in the growth prospects for STEM jobs, particularly in the regions highlighted by the 2021 STEMdex,” said Gregg Logan, managing director of RCLCO. In the latest 10-year industry employment projections released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (published in September 2021 with projections through 2030), higher than average employment growth, particularly for STEM jobs, are forecast.

RCLCO partnered with CapRidge Partners in 2016 to create the STEMdex as a tool to identify which of the largest metropolitan areas in the United States are primed for growth in STEM-based industries. The analysis focuses on metrics in four major areas RCLCO finds to be paramount to the growth of STEM jobs: STEM Trends/Economic Factors (including population growth metrics, industry-specific growth and location quotient metrics, and STEM wages), Workforce Quality (including the growth of millennial households and educational attainment levels), Quality of Life/Health (including cost of living factors, commute times, walk scores, and more), and Business Climate (including office costs, local tax environments, and other metrics). In total, RCLCO identified and weighted 24 different indicators they believe best characterize the four major categories and can quantify their impact on the STEM job market.

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