Friday, August 24, 2012

Importing Talent Problem

In the diverging world of innovation, most places get smarter thanks to migration. What happens when the talent stops coming? New Hampshire is grappling with this question:

As it turns out, only a small share of New Hampshire residents who hold bachelor's degrees were actually born in the state. Of the New Hampshire residents aged 25 to 64 holding a four-year degree, only 18.8 percent of them were born in the state -- a percentage low enough to place the state 46th nationally for its share of college-educated native-born residents.

Horgan said he was "very surprised" to discover the state's low standing, "because we perceive ourselves as being so highly educated ... but obviously our native population is ranked very low."

Where the figure becomes especially troubling, he said, is when it's considered in the context of New Hampshire's aging population and slowing rates of in-migration.

Because, as its population grays and fewer people move here, "what's our future workforce going to look like if we're not educating our native population?" wondered Horgan.

Most states and metros are drunk on inmigration. Now that geographic mobility is declining and the Innovation Economy is showing signs of convergence, anxiety is acute. Producing talent organically takes time.

I've noted the same red flag being raised in Silicon Valley (see here and here). Cities such as Pittsburgh and Boston have a huge competitive advantage thanks to those regional talent production clusters. Pittsburgh boosted its concentration of college graduates almost without any inmigration, foreign born or domestic. With the local economy booming, migrants are now pouring in. My bet is that talent production centers will become hot destinations for people who do relocate. New Hampshire is right to be worried.

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