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Which Metros are Education Magnets?

The ability for a metro to attract and retain talent is vital to its success in today’s competitive economy. The Census Bureau’s American Community Survey allows us to see which metros are more attractive to educated workers. We can see how many educated adults (aged 25+ with at least a bachelor’s degree) move into our largest metros and how many move out. The difference between these figures gives us a net inflow or outflow.

The map below plots the net migration of educated adults for all US metros with a population of at least 1 million.

The Dallas-Ft. Worth MSA saw the biggest net inflow gaining 19,590 educated adults between 2014 and 2015 (89,397 moved out, but 108,987 moved in). Phoenix, Charlotte, Denver and Portland round out the top 5.

On the other end of the spectrum, our largest metros tended to see the most out-migration of educated adults. New York saw a new domestic outflow of 57,507. New York along with Chicago (22,944 outflow), Washington D.C. (13,096), Boston (9,516), and Los Angeles (9,423) make up the 5 metros with the greatest outflow of educated adults. It should be noted that each of these metros saw large inflows of educated adults from abroad which made up for much of the domestic decline.

So, how can your region work to attract and retain educated adults? Here are a few suggestions to consider.

  1. Know your industry makeup. By understanding the unique needs of your businesses, you can begin to develop plans to meet those needs. School districts, community colleges and 4-year schools should be willing partners to find and develop programs that will provide your businesses the talent they need to grow. Growth begets more growth.

  2. Find out why people leave. Economic opportunity will be the biggest reason people move in and out of a region and there may be little you can do about that, but if there are other less obvious reasons (often perceived lack of quality of life options), it would be good to know them. It may be difficult to ascertain, but knowing if there are recurring reasons why educated adults leave your community, you can go about remedying them if possible.

  3. Think International. Between 2014 and 2015, the 53 largest metros welcomed over 450,000 educated adults from abroad. In some metros, this figure was quite large (over 50,000) in New York while in some like Birmingham and Louisville it was just a few hundred. What efforts could be undertaken to make it easier for your region to import talent to make your economy more successful?

The data behind the map can be found here.

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