Arizona Boom Draws Californians and Changes Political Hue

Inside there are the typical tech office touches like standing desks, Nerf guns, a commitment to dog-friendliness and conference rooms named after booze (margarita, gimlet, old fashioned, mojito). Heidi Jannenga, a co-founder of the company and its chief clinical officer, has a skateboard in her office and a nameplate that exhorts others to Do Epic Stuff, only it doesn’t say “stuff.”

“The ecosystem was nonexistent when we started,” she said of the environment for tech companies. “But we now we’re starting to have the density, which is really exciting.”

Despite its impressive job figures, Phoenix’s growth comes with a wrinkle, which is that the new tech and finance jobs are concentrated in positions that tend to pay less than is typical for these industries, noted Marc Korobkin, an economist with Moody’s Analytics. The average finance job in Phoenix pays about $77,000 a year, compared with about $110,000 nationally, according to Moody’s. The typical tech job pays $80,000 to $85,000, compared with $110,000 to $115,000 nationally.

Yelp, the business-directory and user-review site, is based in San Francisco but has moved hundreds of lower-paid sales and customer-service jobs to the Phoenix area. The company’s California and Arizona offices look similar — cramped cubicles, free candy — but where the San Francisco headquarters have an engineering-heavy work force and the cerebral quiet of headphone-equipped employees staring intently at computer screens, the 1,200-person Scottsdale operation reverberates with the din of sales representatives on phone calls while channeling their stress and ambition into imaginary baseball and golf swings.

The luxury of feeling relatively affluent is what Phoenix is selling to people as well as companies. A typical home in the Phoenix area is valued at about $293,000, below the national median of $306,000, according to Redfin, a national real estate brokerage. In addition to lots of flat and open land, a light regulatory environment makes it easier to build enough homes to meet demand. In the fourth quarter of 2019, builders in Phoenix were on a pace to build three times as many units — 14.6 per 10,000 residents — as the Los Angeles region, according to the Census Bureau.

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