We’ve released two editions of the Talent Attraction Scorecard, the 2017 version coming out last week. Both times we pitted counties against each other to see how well they rank when looking at skilled job growth, net migration, and a few other other factors. But we wondered: what would the results look like for metro areas?
We crunched the data, and in some ways it’s even more illuminating than the county ranking.
As we detailed on our blog, Maricopa County (Phoenix) and Clark County (Las Vegas) were 1-2 in the 2017 large county ranking—finishing with almost identical index scores. But when counties are grouped into their MSA definitions, neither Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale nor Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise are in the top eight. And among mid-sized metros, the top of the list is dominated by emerging cities like Bend, Oregon, and Bozeman, Montana.
Large Metros (500K+ Pop.)
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington ranks as the top metro for talent attraction based on its strong growth in jobs, migration, and educational attainment. The metroplex is closely followed by Denver-Aurora-Lakewood and San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward.
Dallas, Denver, and San Francisco are hubs for skilled talent, both in their city cores and surrounding suburbs. But they’re not the only talent magnets. The top 15 includes Austin, Seattle, Portland, Tampa–and yes, Phoenix (No. 10) and Las Vegas (No. 11).
Right outside the top 15 are some other traditional powerhouse metros for talent, San Jose (No. 16) and Raleigh (No. 17).
Perhaps you’ve noticed a trend with these talent hubs, one that’s even clearer to spot in the interactive map. Like our county ranking, the top metros for skilled talent are all in the South, West, and Texas. Grand Rapids (No. 26) is the highest-ranked metro outside these three areas. Others that buck the trend: Fayetteville (No. 27) anchors the growing northwest Arkansas region, Des Moines (No. 28) is an up-and-coming metro, and Columbus (No. 31) and Madison (No. 38) are major campus cities with positive momentum.
The composition of metro areas boosts some communities, like Dallas and Denver because they have so many counties that are doing well. But it slightly dings the likes of the Phoenix MSA, which includes Maricopa and Pinal counties (the latter of which ranked 147th among large counties in our index).
We often recommend using MSAs as base level regions to analyze because they do a good job capturing trade and commuting flows in a region. Each MSA is made up of a single county (e.g., Las Vegas) or group of counties, which when looked at by themselves can shed interesting light on the differences inside a region. (See last year’s scorecard for more on that.) As we heard from a few readers, though, two counties in one metro area could offset each other in migration and other metrics. Which makes this MSA version of the scorecard that much more useful.
Consider the New York MSA, which ranks last out of 107 MSAs with at least 500,000 people. New York’s index score (-36.9) is twice as low as the next lowest city, Chicago (-18.6). Although it had two counties, Kings and Richmond, that ranked in the top 100, New York County, Essex County, and 10 others sat in the bottom 100 among 595 large counties (pop. 100K and above).
|County Name||2017 Rank|
|Kings County, NY||67|
|Richmond County, NY||94|
|Bronx County, NY||194|
|Ocean County, NJ||256|
|Queens County, NY||337|
|Somerset County, NJ||349|
|Orange County, NY||382|
|Morris County, NJ||427|
|Sussex County, NJ||443|
|Hunterdon County, NJ||458|
|Monmouth County, NJ||490|
|Rockland County, NY||512|
|Dutchess County, NY||519|
|Hudson County, NJ||545|
|Middlesex County, NJ||548|
|Bergen County, NJ||555|
|Union County, NJ||570|
|Nassau County, NY||576|
|Westchester County, NY||578|
|Passaic County, NJ||583|
|Suffolk County, NY||587|
|Essex County, NJ||589|
|New York County, NY||594|
Mid-Sized Metros (100K-499K Pop.)
Bend is our No. 1 mid-sized metro for skilled talent attraction. Right behind the central Oregon MSA that has seen 27% growth in skilled jobs are three metros with almost identical index scores: Bozeman, St. George, Utah, and The Villages, Florida. The Villages’ population growth and net migration have been silly high, but note that most of it has been older residents moving in.
Also in the top five is Lake Charles, Louisiana, home to the No. 1 small county in our ranking (Cameron Parish). Meanwhile, Fort Collins (No. 6), Reno (No. 9), Sioux Falls (No. 16), and Fargo (No. 19) are emerging metros with fast-growing populations.
Four West Virginia metros are in the bottom 10: Beckley, Bluefield, Charleston, and Huntington-Ashland. All of these MSAs have lost jobs and population the last five years, but Beckley’s skilled job loss from 2012-2016 (-11.4%) is particularly jarring.
In addition to hard-hit Appalachia, two Southwest metros rank in the bottom five. Sierra Vista-Douglas, Arizona, is in last place, while Farmington, New Mexico—where associate’s degree-and-above educational attainment has declined 11.6% since 2012, the worst of any metro—is 270th out of 274 mid-sized MSAs.
Download the 2017 Talent Attraction Scorecard to see more findings and read about talent attraction strategies that your region can implement. To learn more about Emsi data, click here and email Josh Wright.