Saturday, April 14, 2012

Pittsburgh Migration of the Young, Single, and College Educated

The U.S. Census Bureau just published a new working paper titled, "Historical Migration of the Young, Single, and College Educated: 1965 to 2000." An overview:

The migration rates of the young, single, and college educated have been consistently higher than those of the general population since the late 1960s. The group also has made residential choices that are different from those of the overall population, with the result that some areas have attracted young, single, college-educated migrants despite a net domestic out-migration among the general population. Among the young, those with different marital statuses (single versus married) and levels of educational attainment (college educated versus those without a bachelor’s degree) have demonstrated different migration rates and patterns.

Emphasis added. Not all domestic migration losers are the same. New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and even Detroit were gaining young, single, and college educated migrants while losing overall domestic migrants. There is an exception to every rule and it is Pittsburgh:

Of the 20 largest metro areas in 2000, only one—Pittsburgh, PA—had experienced nondecreasing net out-migration of the young, single, college-educated population (Appendix Table A-3). (Two detailed tables containing data for all metro areas are available on the U.S. Census Bureau’s Web site at .) Between 1965 and 1970, the net migration rate for the young, single, college-educated population of Pittsburgh, PA, was –16, and by 2000, it had decreased to –129.

Those dismal numbers inform a puzzling paradox. Why is there such a strong concentration of young, college educated adults in Pittsburgh? Some facts:

In the 25-34 segment, Pittsburgh trails only Boston; San Francisco; Washington, D.C.; and Austin, Texas, in terms of the labor force's share of college educated. That's evidence, said Mr. Briem, that the city's college-educated aren't leaving in droves, despite the persistent Rust Belt, "brain drain" rhetoric.

"We gnash over young people leaving, young graduates leaving. The numbers are clearly showing that large numbers are staying here, have found jobs or are looking for work," he said.

Pittsburgh doesn't attract the young, single, and college educated demographic. Pittsburgh produces the young, single, and college educated and many of them stay. Pittsburgh isn't dependent on migration to boost its educational attainment rate. That is a tremendous asset and competitive advantage in the Talent Economy.

For example, consider zoetifex. Pittsburgh is becoming a major hub for animation production.Yesterday on City-Data's Pittsburgh forum, zoetifex made the following comment:

There is a lot of talk about the type of talent we can attract. Rest assured, that the high quality talent is with us. Most of our animators have worked for Disney, Blue Sky, Pixar, Dreamworks, Imagi, etc...

And we are continually getting swamped with emails from others who are working for these studios and originally from Pittsburgh - they want to come home! Others know that they will make a better living here and to most animators, that's what counts. What kind of work will I do and how much will I make? We have the cool projects, and they will make a good living. A win/win situation.

Pittsburgh produces and exports talent that is in high demand. This "brain drain" is the reason for the growing cluster in animation. Don't applaud Marcellus Shale gas for the recent economic boom in Southwestern Pennsylvania. Celebrate outmigration.

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