Last month, Vancouver learned it didn’t make the short list for a second headquarters that Amazon plans to build somewhere in North America.
It was never going to happen. Amazon’s primary headquarters is just two hours south of Vancouver, in Seattle, and the tech giant was always very unlikely to select a location for its second home so close to its first. (That didn’t stop B.C. Premier John Horgan from spending $50,000 on Vancouver’s bid.) But the prospect of an estimated 50,000 new jobs in Vancouver and Surrey had politicians salivating.
Now the Vancouver Economic Commission (VEC) has released the unsuccessful proposal that it put together. And it’s attracting criticism for one of the selling points included there.
The proposal boasts that of the cities that Amazon might consider, Vancouver has low greenhouse-gas emissions, a low tax burden, and also low wages.
“Our talent competes with the best, yet we have the lowest wages of all North American tech hubs,” the document reads.
Under a heading labelled “Quality talent at affordable rates,” it suggests that Amazon—which had an estimated market value of $684 billion as of February 2018—could expect big savings with its second headquarters in Vancouver.
“Tech salaries are 25% lower in Canada relative to the US, creating a labor cost advantage,” the document reads.
“Vancouver specifically offers more affordable wages for tech sector workers compared to other major cities (see table below),” it continues. “Industry executives indicate that lower-cost labor does not mean lower-quality labor, which reinforces the value of our local talent.”
That table below paints a picture that might make a lot of tech employees in Vancouver wonder why they shouldn’t immediately pack up and relocate to greener pastures.
It states that the average annual tech wage stands at US$114,000 in Seattle, US$109,000 in New York, and US$62,000 in Toronto.
Meanwhile, in Vancouver, the average annual tech wage is just US$60,000.
Looking at total possible savings that Amazon could expect to see, taking into account other factors such as health-care costs, the report concludes: “Vancouver could result in a cumulative savings of up to USD $34 billion for office space, labor, and health costs over a 10-year horizon,” the proposal adds.More