The reshoring of U.S. call center operations continues to put pressure on labor markets across the United States. Many of these call centers that were once choosing offshore and nearshore locations like the Philippines, India, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic or El Salvador are now choosing the U.S. as the preferred geography during the site selection process. This trend, compounded with a desire to be in more scalable, larger metro areas, has caused call center worker population to cluster in certain metro areas.

To monitor these trends, Site Selection Group maintains a database of where call centers are located as well as their daily expansion and contraction activities. To share some of this call center site selection market intelligence, I have pulled a list together of the top 25 metro areas with the highest amount of call centers workers. In addition, I have identified a few things to look out for during your next search for the optimal call center locations to expand. 

Wage inflation risks are higher in dense call center labor markets
With labor conditions tightening, wage inflation is a major concern of most call centers in the U.S. Call center wage inflation in the U.S. has been relatively flat since the Great Recession as compared to offshore and nearshore labor markets that were having 5-10% annual wage inflation over the same period of time. Today, call centers are faced with a lot more risk of higher wage inflation which I would estimate to be 3-5% annually over the next few years. This will likely result in a $1-2 per hour wage increase for most call center positions especially in the more densely populated call center locations identified below.

New minimum wage laws are going dramatically shift call center growth trends
The new minimum wage laws that are taking effect are going to cause not only call center wages to increase but also a potential exodus of call center operations from these locations as well as these states being eliminated early in the site selection process.  Site Selection Group recently released a whitepaper entitled The Impact of Minimum Wage Increases on Corporate Location Decisions. Historically, popular call center destinations included Phoenix where the minimum wage is going to increase to $12 per hour. This is going to create some significant challenges on employers who are forced to compete with fast food restaurants paying the same wage as a call center. 

Top 25 metro areas with the greatest number of call center workers
The battle to attract experienced call center workers continues to be important for both outsourcers and captive in-house call centers in the U.S. The desire for quality over cost savings is a uniquely new phenomenon in the call center site selection industry that clearly has its risk. To help identify some of these geographies, we have scoured our proprietary database and identified the below 25 metro areas with the highest number of traceable call center employees. It is important to note that I removed some of the mega metro areas such as New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and other metro areas were reliable call center employment data does not exist. The end result is the following list of metro areas that have successfully attracted numerous call center operations over the last 20+ years

 Top 25 Metro Areas with Greatest Number of Call Center Workers

Rank Metro Area State Estimated Total Call Center Employees
1 Atlanta GA 121,480
2 Dallas TX 115,837
3 Phoenix AZ 109,764
4 Tampa FL 69,189
5 Houston TX 67,848
6 St. Louis MO-IL 54,345
7 San Antonio TX 53,638
8 Charlotte NC-SC 52,231
9 Orlando FL 41,447
10 Denver CO 35,188
11 Pittsburgh PA 33,009
12 Cincinnati OH-KY-IN 32,917
13 Nashville TN 32,071
14 Salt Lake City UT 30,193
15 Virginia Beach VA-NC 29,499
16 Columbus OH 27,766
17 Detroit MI 26,607
18 Jacksonville FL 25,290
19 Austin TX 24,929
20 Las Vegas NV 23,778
21 Buffalo NY 22,461
22 Tucson AZ 22,163
23 Indianapolis IN 20,591
24 Kansas City KS-MO 20,573
25 Louisville KY 17,813

Source: Site Selection Group, Local Economic Development Organizations

Conclusions
The call center site selection process continues to be more of an art than science. Data like the list above is only one of many factors you need to consider when looking for that optimal call center location. Hopefully, this list provides you some great insight into some of the historically most popular locations in the U.S. Please let me know if you have any questions or need some help with your next call center site search.  I can be reached at kwhite@siteselectiongroup.com.

Download our Minimum Wage Trends Whitepaper

Let us know what you think!