Thursday, August 24, 2006

Knowledge Worker Mobility III

The Carnegie Mellon Center for Economic Development is a great resource for exploring issues of migration. Their research demonstrates that inmigration is the problem facing Pittsburgh, not outmigration. The Pittsburgh region is remarkably inert. Between 1995 and 2000, no other large metropolitan area had a greater percentage of residents still living in the same house than Pittsburgh.

Higher educational attainment does correlate with inter-county relocations, at least if a job opportunity is the pull factor. The report cited above recommends that Pittsburgh target populations with postsecondary degrees. This bit of wisdom stems from a U.S. Census report titled, Why People Move. If people with graduate or professional degrees are going to move long distances, they tend to do so for a job.

In other words, the higher the educational attainment, the greater the labor mobility. As a result, knowledge workers tend to be economic opportunists. The irony is that Pittsburgh would have a better chance of attracting workers with advanced degrees than those without high school diplomas, but the region would also be more likely to lose knowledge workers once they get here. If you want to invest in attracting workers, target the less educated.


Amos_thePokerCat said...

First, I think the CMU paper points out two things, low in-migration, high elderly population. To get a better measure for in-migration you would have to compensate for the disproportionate elderly population that PIT has, just like percentage total populations adjusts for city size.

I wonder how many people in that "Why People Move" census report, that fall under family reasons, are because the spouse got a job in a new city, moved first, and then the other half moved. I would classifiy that as a job move, but it shows up as family.

You final sentense contradicts the information from that census report.

"If you want to invest in attracting workers, target the less educated."

It seems pretty obvious, that the less educated you are, the less reason you have to move. You can find adequate employement where you are, and it is not worth the time, trouble, and money to move for a small increase. So, targetting the less educated would just be a waste of money, and not attracting someone that would not leave.

Jim Russell said...

My point is that you spend money attracting those who are less likely to move again once you land them. Spending money on attracting those more likely to move (i.e. highly educated) is not too wise because they will move again. That's a waste of money.

There is little sense in spending money on transient gains. The highly educated can always move to greener pastures. However, if you invest in the relocation of the less educated, you will more likely see the second generation born and raised in Pittsburgh.

Of course, if the kids are more educated than the parents, then they are more likely to leave the region.


Amos_thePokerCat said...

Yes, I understand that was your point. I disagree with it. I think it is a waste of money advertizing for people that will not move in the first place.

If you are a medical reaseacher, a law professor, or a robotics geek, you may want to move to PIT for a job. Basic car salesmen flunky. Nope. He can find a job anywhere, and probably already has a better one. Why would he move? He wouldn't.

sustainable said...

The Burgh is in the people export business? I would say job well done to the educational system and parents for empowering nomadic behavior.

Carnegie Mellon University and the leadership team behind the Clusters of Innovation might take umbrage with being called inert.