I intended to discuss the chapter about educational attainment in the Brookings "State of Metropolitan America" report later this week. I am blogging about it now because of the conversation concerning my post from earlier today, "Chicago Talent". Understandably, Chicago Nation is less than impressed with my opinion on the matter.
Piecing the Rust Belt megaregion back together, I'm comparing Chicago to its manufacturing brethren. Actually, that's what Bill Testa has done:
Almost all of these cities have struggled with an over-reliance on manufacturing. In terms of income per capita growth, Chicago is lagging behind the US average. Only Minneapolis and Pittsburgh exceed it. The narrative associated with Testa's analysis of the above:
In considering educational attainment of the populations, the table below displays the ranks of Great Lakes metropolitan areas among 118 metropolitan areas in 1970 and 2006. The two local leaders in 1970 college attainment, Columbus, Ohio, and the Twin Cities also experienced the fastest employment growth. While Pittsburgh ranked low in college attainment in 1970, its gains in this metric since then have been the most rapid. Perhaps not accidentally, Pittsburgh’s growth in per capita income also outpaced other cities in the region.
That's a good segue to the Brookings chapter, which also notes the considerable variance among the cities transitioning out of a primarily manufacturing economy:
In general, two types of metro areas made significant gains: large, coastal regions with high value-added economies (e.g., Boston), and mid-sized markets that have made a transition away from manufacturing toward higher education and health care industries (e.g., Pittsburgh, Baltimore).
The top-10 gainers in educational attainment for 2000-2008:
- Worcester, MA 6.1
- Miami, FL 5.4
- Pittsburgh, PA 5.3
- Indianapolis, IN 5.3
- Baltimore, MD 5.1
- New Haven, CT 5.0
- Akron, OH 5.0
- Boston, MA 5.0
- Cape Coral, FL 5.0
- Des Moines, IA 5.0
We care about educational attainment because of its positive correlation with employment and per capita income. That's the talent dividend CEOs for Cities is promoting. It boils down to economic prosperity. Relative to its Great Lakes cohort, Chicago has not outperformed. Again, Bill Testa:
[As seen above], for much of the 1990s, the Chicago region’s per capita income made little if any gains on the Great Lakes region. Rather, by way of explanation, the surrounding Midwest region was also experiencing a comeback of the same degree .
That's the megaregional (i.e. Rust Belt) benchmarking for prosperity. Perhaps as one commenter suggests, I'm looking at the wrong measures. Make of it what you will. There is a data story for every perspective. I remain unconvinced that Chicago is doing a good job of attracting talent, even relative to other Rust Belt cities.