Does New Data Upend Old Assumptions About the Knowledge Economy?

Joel Kotkin looks at a new analysis of Census data by Wendell Cox that may upend the "conventional wisdom" that "talented, highly-skilled and highly educated people" are clustering in America's coastal cities.

Using data that depicts the change in the number of people with bachelor's degrees in the 51 largest metropolitan statistical areas in America from 2000-2010, Kotkin concludes that, "In the past decade, the metropolitan areas that have enjoyed the fastest growth in their college-educated populations have not been the places known as hip, intellectual hotbeds." Hence, he finds that rather than clustering in select "hip" cities, "brainpower is spreading out."

"In reality," Kotkin argues, "skilled, college-educated people are increasingly now scattered throughout the country, and often not where you'd expect them. For example, Charlotte, N.C., Columbus, Ohio, Kansas City and Atlanta now boast about the same per capita number of college grads as Portland and Chicago, and have higher per capita concentrations of grads over the age of 25 than Los Angeles."

It probably isn't shocking to see that the fastest growing cities over the last decade (Las Vegas, Raleigh, Austin, Charlotte, Riverside) also grew by the highest numbers of college grads. Kotkin attributes the growth of college grads in these areas to three key factors that invariably attract any American - "lower home prices, better business climate, job opportunities." 

"Looking ahead," Kotkin concludes, "we can expect this trend to continue, particularly as the current bulge of millennial graduates mature and start to look for affordable places to live and work. Regions that maintain strong job growth, and keep their housing costs down, are likely to keep gaining on those metropolitan areas celebrated for being the winners of the race for educated people."

Full Story: The U.S. Cities Getting Smarter The Fastest



Oh for the love of god...

Yet another example of how statistics can be manipulated into saying anything you want. Starting with a low initial number makes it easy to produce a more impressive "percent growth."

For sake of comparison: according to the table in the article, New York gained 905,618 college grads, which is more than than the top 7 metro areas combined (879,193).

I say this as no fan of the 'conventional wisdom' (i.e. Richard Florida) the piece is supposedly railing against, and am perfectly willing to accept that disparities in college graduates may indeed be decreasing.

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