Atlanta second-best for making a tech salary go further

2:27 p.m Monday, Oct. 9, 2017 Business
Atlanta’s tech sector is a regional power, but it cannot compare to the number and intensity of Silicon Valley

For purchase power, metro Atlanta tech salaries pack the second-strongest punch in the country, according to an analysis by an Austin-based jobs site.

By the standards of places like Silicon Valley, the pay for Atlanta tech workers is really pretty modest. But when it comes to how much you can stretch that paycheck, Atlanta may make the hotshots in California look underpaid, said the report by Indeed, which lists thousands of positions and offers various services to jobseekers.

That doesn’t mean an engineer should pass up a job in say, San Jose, where the average annual salary for a tech job is nearly $127,000, said Jed Kolko, Indeed’s chief economist.

“Is Silicon Valley, or other expensive tech hubs, worth it for tech workers trying to make their paycheck stretch as far as possible?” Kolko said. “In fact, the answer is yes.”

But dollar for dollar – once the salaries are adjusted for living costs – a worker is best off in Charlotte, followed by Atlanta, he said.

Much of the demand for tech workers in Atlanta is for non-tech companies – banks, hospitals, universities, financial companies. But the places with the highest concentration of techies and tech companies are – perhaps not coincidentally – also some of the nation’s most expensive places to live.

Atlanta’s home prices have been rising faster than average incomes, making housing less affordable. But even so, it looks pretty cheap compared to Silicon Valley.

The median home price in San Jose, for example, is $902,000, according to Zillow, a national housing data company. By contrast, the median in Atlanta is $213,400.

And for some people, what matters most is how much they can buy with the money.

“That $100,000 tech job will get you more bedrooms, avocado toasts, and climbing-gym memberships in central Texas than in coastal California,” Kolko said.

According to Indeed, the companies hiring the most tech workers in Atlanta include Capgemini, Home Depot, Georgia Tech, SunTrust and Equifax.

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