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Are rising office rents in Orange County a sign of a tech boom?

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Office rents in Orange County are rising faster than in any other part of the country, but because they're still lower than in San Francisco or Los Angeles' Silicon Beach, they're luring tech firms to expand into the area.

According to a new report from commercial real estate firm CBRE, average office rents increased by 23 percent in Orange County between the second quarters of 2015 and 2017. 

CBRE's Kurt Strasmann, a senior managing director in Orange County, says the county is still a bargain.

"The San Francisco area has done very well, and west L.A. has done extraordinarily well. But Orange County has been kind of a hidden gem," he says. 

Strasmann says tech companies have been expanding into Orange County — especially Irvine — because of the pool of skilled, educated workers. He says firms are finding plenty of skilled workers there who don't fit the city-dwelling millennial stereotype.

"They want the same thing as baby boomers, for the most part," he says. "They want to buy a house, they want have a yard, they want to have some kids, and a lot of them move to the suburbs." 

Orange County has seen tech jobs steadily opening up. CBRE finds that employment has grown by more than 40 percent in the region between 2005 and 2016. However, the report finds that tech job growth is still stronger in L.A. and San Francisco.