27 February . 2020
Where do Austinites work? Here are Austin’s Top 5 employment centers
Anyone who’s been looking for a job knows that Austin’s job market is red-hot. As we start a new decade, Austin’s job growth over the next 10 years is projected to be 47 percent, higher than the projected U.S. average of 33.5 percent. With an unemployment rate of 2.7 percent – more than a full point beneath the U.S. average – Austin has surpassed what economists consider full employment.
There has never been a better time to find a great job in Austin. The Wall Street Journal analyzed the 53 biggest U.S. metros and named Austin as the number one “hottest job market.” Austin has also been the number one Best Place to Live in America for three consecutive years in the influential U.S. News & World Report rankings.
As capital of the Lone Star State and home to the mammoth University of Texas flagship campus, Austin has a very stable employment base in government and university jobs. The State of Texas has nearly 63,000 employees locally, or about eight percent of Austin’s workforce. UT Austin is also a huge employer, with nearly 24,000 workers. Add in local and federal governments, along with Austin ISD, and the public sector accounts for a sizable share of Austin’s overall employment base.
Technology, however, is where the growth is. Tech companies account for a much higher-than-average share of Austin’s workforce, compared to the national average. Ditto for small startup companies in Austin. In an analysis of LinkedIn’s latest Top Companies list, which ranks the most desirable companies for American workers, the Austin Business Journal found that many of these companies have sizable footprints in the area. Several, including Apple, have plans to grow even larger.
Austin’s gleaming skyline has become iconic, and indeed downtown Austin is home to some A-list tech companies like Google and Facebook. But like most big U.S. cities, Austin has several “downtowns” that are major employment centers. For those who are new to the Austin area, and those who want an update to the fast-growing and ever-evolving Austin economy, this blog takes a look at Austin’s major job hubs.
Downtown Austin is home to 15 percent of all jobs in the Capital City metro area, with 93,000 employees, according to the Downtown Austin Alliance. The number of jobs in the city’s core has grown 19 percent from 2013 to 2018, the group says. Downtown is home to 178 tech companies and 21 coworking spaces.
More major growth is on the way. Downtown Austin currently has 63 million square feet of existing development, with 7 million square feet under construction and another 9.5 million square feet in the planning stage, the Downtown Austin Alliance reports.
Both Facebook and Alphabet, the parent company of Google, have been aggressively expanding their footprints in downtown Austin.
Facebook employs about 1,200 people in downtown Austin. Its original Austin office occupies the 9th through 12th floors at 300 W. Sixth St. The social media giant also recently opened an office in the Third + Shoal tower in downtown that has room for more than 1,550 employees.
Alphabet is growing fast across the country, and especially in Austin where it recently leased an entire 35-story skyscraper currently under construction along Lady Bird Lake in downtown Austin. Google has said that the building can accommodate up to 5,000 employees, and it expects to start moving in by 2023.
In 2019, Google leased all seven floors of an office building under construction in the Saltillo development in East Austin, just a few miles from downtown. The 150,000 square feet of space in this lease can provide enough room for 750 workers, and Google has said they will start moving in by early 2020.
Indeed, the online job search company, has leased more than 300,000 square feet in a 36-story downtown office tower under construction at West Sixth and Colorado streets.
Not precisely downtown, but close, is the Austin campus of Oracle. This software company employs 3,000 at a 560,000-square-foot corporate campus that opened near downtown in 2018. Though Oracle has also hinted at an expansion that could nearly double the current square footage at its campus, no definite timetable has emerged. Company executives have stated that the 40-acre campus has room for up to 10,000 employees.
Located northwest of downtown, off North MoPac Boulevard, The Domain was originally focused on retail, restaurants, entertainment and multifamily residential.
But over the past decade, the Domain has established itself as Austin’s second downtown and as a major tech hub in its own right. Nearly 3.5 million square feet of office space has been built at The Domain, where major tech companies such as Vrbo (formerly HomeAway), Amazon, Indeed and Facebook have leased large blocks of office space, and even entire buildings.
The Domain has thrived as a total “live, work, play” environment where employees want to be.
“Austin is a technology magnet, and The Domain is one of its main draws,” said Scott McLaughlin, a senior vice president with The Domain’s dominant office landlord, told the Austin American-Statesman. “The Domain is not only attracting from among the greatest tech companies, but the tech companies in turn are using The Domain to attract the best talent.”
The Domain’s five largest tech employers fill up about one-third of the overall office space that currently exists in this mixed-use development.
Vrbo is building its new global headquarters in a 16-story office building called Domain 11. Vrbo will occupy 100 percent of the 315,000-square-foot building, which will have enough space to accommodate more than 2,000 employees. Vrbo also has offices in downtown and South Austin.
Indeed is occupying the entirety of an 11-story office building that was recently completed at The Domain, along with a five-story building on the Domain’s east side. Austin is a big part of a major national expansion for Indeed. Two years ago, the company had 1,600 employees in Austin, and announced plans that could expand that local headcount by as many as 3,000 new hires over the next few years.
Also at The Domain, Facebook has leased an entire 17-story office tower with about 320,000 square feet, and Amazon has taken more than 245,000 square feet in a single Domain building. Other large tech companies with offices at The Domain include Adobe, WeWork and Blackbaud, a software company.
Northwest Austin, aka Silicon Hills
Northwest Austin, the historic cradle of Austin’s tech industry, is being rapidly transformed by new developments including Apple’s massive corporate campus, which is large enough to create its own center of gravity.
The local tech industry first began to take root in this part of Austin in the late 1960s and 1970s, with “old tech” companies like IBM and Texas Industries setting up shop here. With its rolling Hill Country terrain, the area soon earned the nickname of Silicon Hills, an analogue – and differentiator – from California’s Silicon Valley.
"The Silicon Valley parallel (to Northwest Austin) would be that's the old HP garage," Paul O'Brien, CEO of MediaTech Ventures, told Business Insider. He worked in tech in the San Francisco Bay Area before moving to Austin in 2010, providing him with a good perspective to compare the two regions.
IBM and Texas Instruments were later joined in Northwest Austin by tech companies including Bazaarvoice, Cisco, General Motors, Microsoft, National Instruments, 3M and Samsung. Many of their offices were located along Parmer Lane, a major business corridor in North Austin.
When Apple first came to the Austin area in a big way in the 1990s, it chose Parmer Lane as the site of its first area offices. Today, Apple’s new $1 billion Austin campus is just a mile away from its first local outpost. It is planned to open in late 2021 or early 2022.
On 133 acres, the campus will have about 3 million square feet, with 2 million square feet devoted to office space and research and development.
The new Apple campus will initially house about 5,000 employees and has space to accommodate up to 15,000 workers. Jobs at the new campus will include engineering, research and development, operations, finance, sales and customer support, according to the Austin Business Journal.
Already, Austin is Apple’s largest corporate hub outside of its headquarters in Cupertino, California. Apple has about 6,200 employees in Central Texas.
Round Rock – and Dell
Dell Technologies, one of Austin’s pioneering tech companies, is already the second-largest private employer in Central Texas, with about 13,000 workers in the region. In August 2019, Dell announced a $10 million expansion of its Austin campus that would retain 490 jobs and create 40 new ones. Worldwide, Dell has 138,000 employees.
The “multioffice” strategy
If you have noticed that many of Austin’s largest tech companies have more than one major local office, it’s not by accident.
With Austin’s low unemployment rate and heated competition for the most talented tech employees, companies including Facebook, Apple and Indeed have started using a “multioffice” strategy to accommodate their employees’ diverse preferences for commuting, housing, childcare and other needs.
Giving workers a choice of where to work serves as a recruitment tool for companies eager to lure new employees, Mike Kennedy, a local commercial real estate executive, told the American-Statesman.
Companies realize they must “be able to attract employee talent to compete in their business model,” he said. “With a less than 3 percent unemployment rate, and significant in-migration of population, talent has a choice.”
Rancho Sienna’s location
While some tech workers prefer to live amid the bright lights and nonstop action of places like downtown Austin and the Domain, many others – including a high percentage of Millennials – appreciate the advantages of suburban life. These benefits include not only strong school districts and recreational amenities, but also the opportunity to actually afford to own your own home.
With new homes priced from the low $200,000s – including new choices for low-maintenance homes – Rancho Sienna offers competitive commuting times to employment centers in all parts of the Austin metro area.
With access via the 183A Toll Road, I-35 and other major roadways, our location at Ronald Reagan Boulevard and State Highway 29 is just 30 miles from downtown Austin, and about 20 miles from both The Domain and Dell’s Round Rock campus.
About five miles from Rancho Sienna, Capital Metro’s Leander Station offers rail and express bus service to downtown and other destinations.
Once you’re home in Rancho Sienna, you can enjoy more than 100 acres devoted to parks, trails, recreational amenities and natural open spaces in a scenic Hill Country environment. Residents with kids, or planning to start a family, will appreciate the highly regarded Liberty Hill ISD schools, including our very own Rancho Sienna Elementary School onsite.
Explore all new home plans available in Rancho Sienna, including quick move-in homes.
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