Globally, tech salaries climbed an average of 6.2 percent to US $138,000, with the San Diego area clocking the biggest jump, at 9.1 percent to US $144,000. The San Francisco Bay area registered a slight decline, though average salaries there still top the charts at $165,000. New York City tech salaries slipped slight as well, but the biggest drops came in Dallas and Atlanta. The driver seems to be the "Great Resignation" currently underway: The urgent need of companies to replace departed tech employees is pushing salaries up in most areas, with just a few regions recording declines.
That's the takeaway from Hired's just-released 2021 State of Tech Salaries report.
The Great Resignation doesn't mean that professionals are actually leaving the field, at least in the tech world. They are, however, changing jobs at an accelerated rate in the hunt for better salaries, benefits, or work-life balance. In fact, says Amy Pisano, Hired's chief revenue officer, 64 percent of the employees with ten or more years of experience are looking to change jobs within the next six months.
So maybe we should instead call this trend the "big churn."
While Hired doesn't have hard data on whether the frequency of job hops has changed over the years, anecdotally, Pisano says, "People switch jobs much more frequently than ten years ago and place more value on things like the company's culture, mission, and values, as well as work flexibility. We're in a candidate-driven job market, and tech employees know they can find another job if they're not happy. They are not afraid to quit and look for those better opportunities quickly."
Cost-of-Living Cuts for Remote Workers? Unlikely
A 2020 survey by Hired found that, early in the pandemic, 32 percent of tech professionals would be willing to take a pay cut if their remote work took them to a region with a lower cost of living, while a smaller survey by Blind in 2020 found 50 percent willing to take such a cut. But when this year's Hired survey probed into expectations around remote work, it determined that only 19 percent still fall into that willing category.
"We've seen big tech companies like Google getting quite some criticism for cutting salaries for their remote employees," Pisano says. "This may have caused many to rethink what the right way is to pay employees and what they're willing to accept or not accept. While working remotely throughout the pandemic, people have come to realize that they can do their job from anywhere and it's only fair to pay them based on the work and output they deliver rather than where they choose to live."
About those costs of living: there are some huge differences. Using data from Numbeo, Hired used the San Francisco Bay Area as the baseline, and calculated that the $165,000 average salary reported by tech professionals there is the equivalent of $253,000 in Dallas, $242,000 in Atlanta, and $234,000 in Austin, but drops to $157,000 in New York and $164,000 in Washington, D.C.
The areas in which average salaries dropped do not necessarily reflect changes in pay scales, Pisano indicated, but rather are likely due to a slight drop in the average experience level of the workforce. Specifically, she said, there was a roughly 100 percent increase in candidates with zero to two and two-to-four years of experience receiving interview requests in 2021 compared with 2020. Candidates with more than four years experience were in high demand as well, but their interview requests increased slightly less—80 percent, she said. The large salary dips seen in Dallas and Atlanta may have been due to tech workers accepting regional salary adjustments, Pisano speculated.
Hired's 2021 State of Tech Salaries report was based on 10,000 job offers and more than 525,000 interview requests, focusing on 21 markets plus remote workers. Salary figures did not include stock options or bonuses. Hired also surveyed 1200 tech professionals about their expectations, plans, and preferences.
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Tekla S. Perry is a senior editor at IEEE Spectrum. Based in Palo Alto, Calif., she's been covering the people, companies, and technology that make Silicon Valley a special place for more than 40 years. An IEEE member, she holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Michigan State University.