Amazon’s search for the location of its second headquarters is nearing its conclusion, and the smart money has, so far, been leaning toward the Washington DC area (Washington, DC, Montgomery County and Northern Virginia all made the company’s shortlist) as the most likely location. The area has several advantages, including a large population of well-educated college students and workers, as well as close proximity to Washington DC, where an increasingly hostile administration is plotting to rob Amazon of its favorable tax treatment.
But a recent study, the Conference Board analyzed Amazon job postings using its new Help Wanted OnLine Data Series to try and ascertain whether the company had once again inadvertently tipped its hand during the selection process.
The study determined that Boston and Washington DC are the two most likely candidates, based on job postings.
Given the relatively large number of ads for headquarter caliber occupations and the growth rate in those ads, the Washington, DC metro area and Boston seem the most likely candidates for a second headquarters. Amazon’s current footprint in these cities could ease the hiring of 50,000 new employees and growing demand signals their desire to increase their presence. This is potentially indicative of a labor market suitable for a second Amazon headquarters.
While DC and Boston seem most likely to win, Amazon’s decision to open the bidding process widely has provided cities that may ultimately fall short the chance to position themselves as having a tech friendly environment. All cities on the shortlist likely possess many of the key attributes Amazon seeks. Win or lose, they are able to promote and advertise themselves as a good location for start-ups and technology companies looking to expand or relocate.
The Conference Board determined that the cities with the largest percentage change in the number of job listings – particularly listings for jobs that are heavily represented at HQ1 in Seattle – would be the most likely candidates for HQ2 (previously, we pointed out a surge in web traffic from an Amazon internal server which suggested that Arlington might be the company’s pick).
While Pittsburgh saw the highest percentage change overall, the study’s authors ruled it out because the already low number of employees in Pittsburgh distorts the data.
Boston would offer Amazon access to talent from some of the best schools in the country. But fund managers at Third Avenue better hope that Bezos ultimately passes over Beantown. The firm is betting $10 million of its nearly $2 billion Real Estate Value Fund that Arlington will win out.
Amazon released a list of 20 finalists early this year.
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