Sunday, June 07, 2009

Clueless in Dayton

The exit of NCR from Dayton to Atlanta is terrible news. But the political aftermath in Dayton demonstrates how dysfunctional Rust Belt cities are:

In 2007, Dayton lost more than 2,900 employees with college degrees ages 25 and older — the 13th worst outmigration among metropolitan regions in the nation, according to an analysis by the Brookings Institution. Meanwhile, Atlanta gained nearly 12,400 college-educated workers from that age group — the second best in-migration in the nation.

Much of the brain drain here may be due to job layoffs, but at least part of the blame is the perception among young people that there’s more excitement and vibrancy to be found in bigger cities, said Sean Creighton, executive director of the Southwestern Ohio Council of Higher Education (SOCHE).

“It becomes a chicken-and-egg thing because young creative people are the ones driving the growth in the new economy,” Creighton said. “Companies want to locate where they can find that young talent.”

The framing of the talent problem facing Dayton is atrocious. The people quoted in the article completely miss the mark and mislead the readers. Atlanta's success has almost nothing to do with retaining local graduates. I know this to be true because of all the hype in Georgia about stopping brain drain in that state. Atlanta doesn't have a brain drain problem because of all the talent moving there.

The companion graphic says it all (i.e. Dayton doesn't understand the fix it's in):


Stephen Gross said...

A couple of thoughts...

(1) There's a perception among young people that there's more excitement and vibrancy to be found in bigger cities? My god!? Who would have imagined that such a perception could ever occur? Oh wait... um... big cities are exciting and vibrant. Oh yeah, that's right. I forgot about that part.

(2) The BDI is interesting, but a complicated number. First of all, I don't quite understand why it's necessarily an indicator of student-retention. That is, the percentage of young people attending college might go up because students move into town for school. It also might go up because more local students get into school. It also might go up because more local students move away from town to attend school elsewhere. The percentage of working adults with degrees could go up because those adults obtain more degrees. Or more adults with degrees move into town.

I don't quite understand how to compare those two percentages. Can you elaborate a bit on how to interpret the numbers?

Jim Russell said...

I'm pretty sure that this is the first time I've encountered the BDI. Perhaps I saw it referenced in a report about talent migration. But I don't think you can use it for purposes of comparison. Brookings takes care to disaggregate the talent migration numbers. Apparently, Southwestern Ohio does not.

The number I see commonly referenced is the percentage of the workforce with college degrees. Dayton's problem is that it doesn't attract enough outside talent. Just about any Rust Belt city one could name has that problem.

I'm glad Columbus is included in the graphic. I'd bet that C-bus steals more of Dayton's talent than Atlanta does. I'd also bet that Dayton's out-migration rate is relatively low.

The article is a bunch of hooey.

Jefferey said...

Aside from inter-metropolitan flows Columbus (Franklin County) does recive the highest outmigration from Dayton (within Ohio).

The state that gets the most out-migrants is Florida:

Dayton Outmigration