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New York Tech Scene - Location, Nationality and Gender

New York City’s tech ecosystem employment grew by 18% from 2003 to 2013 and is ever increasing to this day. In fact, 541,000 direct, indirect and induced jobs have been created, at a rate of three times that of the city overall.

It is no surprise then that competition for jobs in New York is fierce. The attraction of higher-than-average salaries (on average 15% higher), virtually every conceivable type of employer, and a multitude of exciting projects positions New York as one of the world’s most exciting cities to work in. However, like any other major global city, the housing prices in the area reflects its popularity as a place to work. This has resulted in a willingness to commute into New York, opening the city up to commuters from across the North-East.

Whereas my time in the UK taught me that both British employers and employees place more importance on the distance to get to work, New York attracts a much wider catchment area. Contract workers, in particular, are more than prepared to work away from home - if the money is right. I’ve seen many NYC-based technology workers fly in on a weekly basis from major cities as far away as Chicago and Detroit.

For full-time NYC workers, given the cost of living near areas of high technology employment, it’s not uncommon to find developers living out in Queens, Yonkers or even out of state and commuting in to Manhattan and Brooklyn on a daily basis.

The make-up of the people who work in New York tech are as you’d expect. Reflecting the general demographics of what has been crowned “the most ethnically diverse city in the world,” the North-East technology scene is highly multi-cultural. It’s great to see that people of different backgrounds are driving the New York tech scene - providing the applicants are eligible to work in the US, hiring managers will go for the best candidate available, American or not.

Like other well-known technology hubs, we often see NYC companies looking overseas to find highly skilled workers. Depending on the company’s qualifying criteria, these contractors tend to be on H1-B Visas or gain sponsorship directly from the company itself. However, this option is usually for bigger companies looking for a large volume of candidates to work on a specific project or a particularly niche technology.

Unfortunately, much like I experienced in the UK, the gender bias still lies heavily towards men. Whilst I’d say I have seen a slight increase in female technology applicants over the last year, roughly 5% or so, I think more can be done to mitigate the stereotype of who should work in tech. Government initiatives, much like the ones carried out to encourage young people into construction, are a great way to not only invest in younger generations but tap into a market of potentially highly-skilled female workers who may have never considered a career in tech.

From what I have witnessed in my year working within tech recruitment in New York the tech scene is just as diverse, open and interesting as the city itself, and supports people from all sorts of backgrounds and from all areas of the city, country and world. The continued growth of the sector coupled with the openness and willingness of NYC workers suggests a bright future for the New York tech scene. Now to ensure we have a truly diverse NY tech workforce we must focus on encouraging more women to take up tech.