It’s a well-known fact that Detroit has been one of the hardest-hit metropolitan areas in previous economic recessions. However, it’s a region that never gives up and today is in the midst of a powerful renaissance across many industries, especially in IT. Let’s take a look at what Detroit’s tech sector growth means for both tech pros and businesses.
It wasn’t long ago that the city’s largest companies were declaring bankruptcy and unemployment rates were skyrocketing. But 2018’s Detroit landscape paints a stark contrast to that of just a decade ago. The region’s unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been since 2000 and, at 4.6%, is in line with the national average. In Detroit’s technology sector things are even better, with a 26% growth in high-tech jobs in just the last three years.
These are phenomenal signs for IT professionals. Companies are looking to hire more than they have been in decades, so demand for all technical skill sets is high. Simply put, there are more career opportunities in Detroit than before. On the flip side, a low unemployment rate and high demand for tech talent means business are having a progressively harder time locating and recruiting professionals. While a healthy economy has benefits for corporations, it does mean less skilled talent is out of work and available for hire.
Detroit didn’t earn the title of “America’s Newest Tech Hub” by Forbes without justification. A tremendous amount of innovation is happening in the region, revitalizing historic industries. Manufacturing has long been popular in Detroit, both for the auto industry and for other goods. These industries are enjoying a resurgence by focusing on new technology, which in turn is a leading driver of tech jobs in and around Detroit.
The city that invented the assembly line is seeing artificial intelligence, machine learning, and automation create more efficient and cost-effective practices in manufacturing. This is a lifesaver for businesses and even helped resurrect some from bankruptcy. While the debate of machines replacing human jobs rages on, IT pros won’t see too many negative effects. AI, machine learning, and automation require highly skilled tech professionals who can create, program, maintain, and troubleshoot these technologies. The demand for these niches in particular is high in the region.
Growth and innovation don’t come for free. They take capital, and luckily for Detroit, the money has been pouring in. A haven for entrepreneurs, it’s the #2 city in the Midwest for startup funding. It houses a culture that celebrates a roll-up-your-sleeves work ethic. New ideas are welcomed, business incubators are common, and technological minds are encouraged.
Hometown billionaire Dan Gilbert is the face of that mentality, investing over $2 billion in real estate and tech ventures in and around the area. While supporting startups, voices like his have also drawn the likes of Amazon, LG, and Facebook to invest millions in the area, the latter having recently brought 3,000 digital jobs to Michigan. As these behemoths come to Motown and startups continue to grow their presence, they bolster the local tech scene.
Of course, this produces mixed feelings for tech employers in the area. Competing for talent against Facebook was not something happening just a few years ago. On the bright side, such great investment and tech activity in the area are making it an attractive one for professionals, which helps grow the local talent pool. The percentage of STEM workers in Detroit is 50% above the U.S. norm, due in large part to educated Millennials who are flocking to the area’s tech career opportunities and cementing Detroit’s resurgence for the foreseeable future.
The incredible growth and activity surrounding Detroit’s tech sector mean different things to different people. While there are growing pains, the change happening in the area is positive. Technology professionals are seeing more opportunities and greater job security. Businesses are seeing increased competition for talent but are also enjoying an influx of tech pros into the city. It may feel like organized chaos when growth happens so quickly, but that’s what makes it such a thrilling sector to be a part of.