Oakland tech job growth slows, key sector remains healthy

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OAKLAND — The technology industry in Oakland is enduring slower job growth, but the sector’s rate of expansion remains sturdy, according to a report released Friday.

“Tech is still growing in Oakland,” said Barbara Leslie, president of the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, which released the report. “When you look at the low point for tech jobs in Oakland being around 2008 and 2009, tech jobs are still showing a 61 percent increase from that lowest point.”

During the July-through-September quarter of 2016, the three-month period picked for the economic study, technology companies employed nearly 7,100 people in Oakland. That was up 7.4 percent from the third quarter of 2015, the chamber reported. The information was culled from statistics provided by the state Employment Development Department and Beacon Economics.

Although Oakland’s technology sector slowed down, it posted another year of solid growth in 2016, the chamber said in its 2017 Oakland Tech Trends Report.

In contrast, tech employment growth during the third quarter of 2015, when Oakland had 6,150 tech jobs, was up 11.3 percent from the July-September period of 2014, the Oakland chamber reported.

Downtown Oakland is home to some high-profile tech companies, including Pandora Media, which has its headquarters in an office tower near Lake Merritt.

But the tech industry also has suffered some reverses in Oakland.

The old Sears building, now renamed “Uptown Station,” once was planned as a second headquarters for Uber Technologies, but Uber has scaled back its plans for downtown Oakland. Laura A. Oda / BANG staff photo

In 2015, San Francisco-based Uber Technologies, announced its purchase of the old Sears building on Broadway with great fanfare. It said it was renaming the iconic building “Uptown Station,” and vowed that it would create a co-headquarters in Oakland at the landmark site.

Uber later drastically scaled back its plans. And in August, the ride-hailing company decided to put the office complex, which is undergoing a vast renovation, up for sale. At the same time, Uber disclosed a consolidation of its San Francisco operations. The various moves suggested that Uber wouldn’t establish a significant foothold in downtown Oakland any time soon.

Despite the Uber setback, the technology industry in Oakland appears to be healthy in a number of ways.

“Mirroring employment, tech wages have also grown tremendously since the last recession,” the report stated. “In 2016, the average tech workers earned $122,000 per year, 5.9 percent higher than 2015.”

Tech wage growth in Oakland grew at a more rapid pace in 2016 compared with the rate of wage growth in 2015. During the one-year period that ended during the third quarter of 2016, technology wages grew by 5.9 percent. In 2015, technology workers in Oakland earned an average annual wage of just over $110,000, which was 3.4 percent higher than 2014.

“The technology sector is doing very well in Oakland, but we also have other industries that allow us to have a strong economic ecosystem here,” Leslie said.



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