Boston, NY Tech Job Growth Hits 5-Year Low, as Amazon Keeps Expanding

The hiring pace among Boston and New York software companies has slowed to a crawl, amid a broader downshift in the tech industry.

During the fourth quarter of last year, the two tech hubs saw their weakest job growth in the past five years. That’s according to a quarterly study compiled by John Barrett, a Boston-area partner with executive recruiting firm On Partners.

The roughly 200 Boston-area digital-tech companies Barrett tracks added around 220 net new jobs in the fourth quarter—a 0.9 percent gain from the previous quarter’s total workforce, the report said. That’s the second consecutive quarter that Boston tech employment increased by about 1 percent, a big shift after a year and a half of strong hiring gains. By comparison, the Boston tech market added 780 net new jobs and 900 net new jobs, respectively, in the first and second quarters of 2016.

Meanwhile, the roughly 400 New York tech companies tracked in the study added around 900 net new jobs in the fourth quarter of last year—a 1.5 percent increase in total jobs from the previous three months. In the third quarter, New York companies added 1,180 net new jobs, which was a 2 percent gain over the previous quarter. The Big Apple’s tech “hiring scene has been steadily eroding” over the past 18 months, according to a press release from On Partners.

Over the past two quarters, less than half of the Boston and New York tech companies tracked by the study increased their payrolls.

“We believe the recent soft hiring scene might be a ‘new normal,’ but it will take another quarter or two to confirm that,” Barrett said in a prepared statement.

For all of 2016, Boston tech companies added 2,155 net new jobs (a 10.1 percent increase from the previous year’s workforce), while New York tech firms boosted headcount by 5,973 people (an 11 percent annual increase), Barrett said. In 2015, Boston added 2,609 net new digital-tech jobs (a 13.9 percent increase) and New York added 7,786 (a 17.3 percent boost).

The slowdown in hiring coincides with a deceleration in venture capital investments nationwide. Some big tech companies have also tightened their belts with layoffs in recent months.

Barrett tracks data from software companies—primarily in consumer Web, small business software, advertising and marketing tech, and payments—that employ at least 10 people. His statistics are gathered by searching LinkedIn for the number of locally based employees working for those tech companies. That means the data are not comprehensive—some employees might not update their LinkedIn profiles in a timely fashion, or might not even have one. But Barrett has said his data are usually within 5 percent of official hiring numbers.

The hiring in Boston and New York last year was mostly concentrated among the largest tech companies, Barrett said in the prepared statement. In Boston, they include Wayfair, Amazon, HubSpot, Google, and CarGurus. In New York, it’s mainly Amazon, Google, Facebook,, Spotify, Blue Apron, and, he said.

Below are the companies that hired the most people in Boston and New York in the fourth quarter. The numbers represent net new jobs at each firm.


1. Amazon: 144
2. CarGurus: 32
3. 30
4. Catalant: 26
5. PillPack: 25
6. Carbonite: 24
7. Google: 22
8. EverQuote: 21
9. HubSpot: 20
10. Criteo: 17

New York:

1. Amazon: 347
2. Facebook: 117
3. Blue Apron: 108
4. 90
5. Spotify: 75
6. 73
7. Compass: 59
8. Etsy: 58
9. Yahoo: 30
10. Yelp: 29

[Top photo “Jobs Help Wanted” by Flickr user neetalparekh, used under Creative Commons 2.0 license. Photo may have been cropped to fit Xconomy publishing system standards.]

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