Red States May Soon Sing the Blues Over Liberal Techie Influx
Trump may have promised to bring back manufacturing jobs to the heartland. But the loss of these jobs in the U.S. continues. Although the number of blue voters is not significant enough to sway national elections in traditionally red states, that could change as the U.S. shifts to a predominantly tech economy whose voters seem to skew blue no matter where they live.
Although leaders of major U.S. tech firms like Apple, Google and Facebook recently met with President-elect Donald Trump to pass the peace pipe, most American tech workers voted Democrat and remain firmly allied with liberal beliefs and progressive causes.
What is surprising is that the left-leaning tendencies of techies is not a mere artifact of where they happen to live. New data from Paysa shows that even when they live in traditionally red states, tech workers create pockets of blue. As the tech industry decentralizes from its Silicon Valley mothership and creates new tech concentrations clustered in other regions of the U.S., the workers still tend to be highly educated and heavily Democratic.
California leads the nation in tech sector employment with over a million tech jobs. California voters overall supported Hilary so it’s no surprise that Silicon Valley’s Santa Clara County, with 6,478 tech workers, voted over 70% blue. Or that San Francisco County with 5,319 tech jobs voted 86% blue. Likewise, in liberal Washington state, King County — which includes Seattle – with 5,195 tech jobs voted 71% blue according to Paysa data.
What is surprising is that in red Texas, Travis County, with 20,395 tech workers, voted 62% blue. In Bexar County, Texas, which includes San Antonio, with 52,177 tech workers, the vote was 52% blue. And given that Florida swung into the red in this election, several Florida counties with large numbers of tech workers also voted blue. For example, Orange County at 6,298 tech workers voted 62% blue. Miami-Dade County with 6,182 tech jobs, also voted 62% blue.
Although the number of blue voters is not significant enough to sway national elections in traditionally red states, that could change as the U.S. continues to hemorrhage manufacturing jobs, a bastion of red state voters, and shifts to a tech economy whose voters seem to skew blue no matter where they live.
With the Rust Belt Decline, Affordable Real Estate Has Tech Talent at Hello
Affordable Housing and The U.S. lost 5 million manufacturing jobs just since 2000 according to a CNN report. “Although about 12 million Americans remain employed in manufacturing, it is not the powerhouse it once was,” the report states. At the same time, the number of Americans employed in the tech sector has grown to about 7 million. And those tech industry workers earned an average wage of $100,400 which is 102% more than the U.S. average private sector wage.
As manufacturing declines, red state economies in recent decades have been based on energy extraction, agriculture and suburban sprawl. On average these states have lower wages, higher poverty rates and lower levels of education on average than those of blue states but also much lower costs of living. This may make living there increasingly appealing to workers in all sectors of the economy, including tech workers.
Jed Kolko, chief economist of the real estate website Trulia, recently noted in a Forbes article that housing costs are almost twice as much in deep-blue markets ($227 per square foot) as in red markets ($119). Tech workers with their higher rates of pay seem better positioned than most to surf the waves of gentrification driving up prices in trendy urban hubs like San Francisco and Oakland. But even tech workers may see that the grass is greener in the red states.
“For even the much better paid techies, engineers, financiers and managers who are displacing (artists and civil servants like teachers and police officers), the metropolitan version of the American dream is a cramped condo or a small house and a long commute. Many are opting to move to cheaper red states instead, further driving their growth,” according to Forbes.
Housing Costs Through the Roof See Silicon Valley Area Residents Fleeing
Silicon Valley lost over 7,500 residents to other parts of the U.S. this past year, according to a report cited in the Wall Street Journal. This marks the first time Silicon Valley has lost more U.S. residents than it has gained since 2011 and blame is being laid at the door of high-priced housing. San Francisco, a more recent tech mecca, saw tech job growth cut in half – from 10% to 5% – in a year as home prices and rents went crazy, based on Bureau of Labor Statistics info on Bloomberg Technology. Other regions with more affordable housing seem to be eating San Francisco’s lunch.
A tech worker in 86% blue San Francisco County earns an average of $200,000 per year compared to a $124,000 earned by a tech worker in 62% blue Travis County, Texas, according to Paysa data. But the median home price in Travis County is $295,000 compared to the median home price of $1,116,300 in San Francisco County. And Travis County includes hip Austin. So how good is that $4 slice of San Francisco artisanal toast tasting now?
Add the options of ordering from Amazon, streaming Spotify and HBO from anywhere, and we may see more of these spots of blue sprouting across the U.S. in traditionally red zones. And the current pockets of blue may swell to forces to be reckoned with in elections of the not-so-distant future.