When we talk about the growth of the Nevada economy, one of the most frequently mentioned factors is the state’s ability to attract skilled and/or educated workers. A new piece in The Atlantic’s CityLab section looks at just that: the net migration of Americans into cities by education level. Not surprisingly, the data shows that the metro areas attracting the most educated workers include knowledge and tech hubs like San Francisco, Austin, Seattle, and Denver, as well as Sunbelt cities like Phoenix, Charlotte, and Miami.
When considering only professional and graduate degrees, CityLab finds that there are significant net inflows of educated workers to the modern-day meccas of knowledge work: Seattle, San Francisco, D.C., Denver, San Jose, Austin, and Portland, plus the banking hub of Charlotte. Nevada’s inflow numbers from those with professional and graduate degrees were surprisingly good, though, as our chart below reveals.
The top ten metros that saw the largest net gains among those with just a high school degree were all in the Sunbelt: Atlanta, Houston, Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Florida’s Fort Myers, Tampa, and Sarasota. So how did Las Vegas do, otherwise? In 2012, Las Vegas-Paradise had a total net migration of 11,270. The educational breakdown in domestic migration is as follows (the raw number is followed by that number’s percentage of total migration):
Graduate or Professional Degree: 2,842 (25.2%)
Bachelor’s Degree: 775 (6.88%)
Some College or Associates Degree: 2,973 (26.4%)
High School Graduate or equivalent: 3,808 (33.8%)
Less Than High School Graduate: 872 (7.7%)
As mentioned above, the numbers for those with a graduate or professional degree are surprising when one considers the often-repeated narrative that Las Vegas only attracts low-skill, low-education residents. The relatively low cost of living combined, no state income tax, and the opportunity for fairly good-paying occupations in health care and the resort industry professional class may be may be one explanation for why the city attracted nearly 3,000 well-educated residents in 2012. That said, new residents with less than a four-year degree accounted for 68% of migration into Las Vegas.
For a point of comparison, here are the numbers for Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos, TX – one of the most economically diverse and fastest-growing cities in the nation – which had a total net migration of 19,753 in 2012:
Graduate or Professional Degree: 3,921 (19.9%)
Bachelor’s Degree: 5,085 (25.7%)
Some College or Associates Degree: 7,094 (35.9%)
High School Graduate or equivalent: 2,557 (12.9%)
Less Than High School Graduate: 1,096 (5.5%)
And the data from our Sunbelt neighbor, Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale, AZ, which had a total net domestic migration of 20,336 in 2012:
Graduate or Professional Degree: 2,181
Bachelor’s Degree: 8,838
Some College or Associates Degree: 8,668
High School Graduate or equivalent: 4,265
Less Than High School Graduate: -3,616 (negative migration/left)
Read the whole piece and have fun playing with the interactive map for cities across the U.S.
Also, GoodLittleCity helpfully posted Reno’s numbers from the CityLab report. Reno had a net positive migration of 1,570 in 2012 but lost people with graduate degrees.