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College Graduates Are Settling Outside Traditional “Braincenters”

hamilton-zanze April 15, 2014

College graduates are increasingly settling in metro areas other than the traditional “brainpower” centers. Although the well-educated continue to populate the usual metros such as Boston, Washington, D.C., and the San Francisco Bay Area, the Southern and Mountain regions of the U.S. are attracting those holding at least a bachelor’s degree at a higher rate.

Robust job creation and a lower cost of living compared with traditional brainpower centers—along with increasing cultural and nightlife amenities—are some reasons why the educated are increasingly inhabiting metro areas in the South, Southeast, and Mountain states.

A study measuring the number of residents holding bachelor’s degrees or higher in 51 major metropolitan statistical areas showed that New Orleans and San Antonio had the largest percentage gains between 2007 and 2012. Both metro areas boosted their educated population by 20.3% over the five-year timeframe.

On an absolute basis, the traditional braincenters are still attracting a higher number of college graduates. However, a rising influx of well-educated people could produce higher-paying employment in these “nontraditional” metros. This, along with the lower cost of living in these areas, could contribute to a higher rate of household formation. In turn, these trends could benefit apartment owners in the form of increased demand for rental housing and rent growth.

The top 12 metros by % increase of college educated residents (2007-2012) are:

  1. New Orleans, LA: 20.3%
  2. San Antonio, TX: 20.3%
  3. Austin, TX: 19.9%
  4. Nashville, TN: 19.3%
  5. Louisville, KY-IN: 16.2%
  6. Houston, TX: 16.0%
  7. Denver, CO: 15.9%
  8. Salt Lake City, UT: 15.7%
  9. Jacksonville, FL: 14.3%
  10. Raleigh, NC: 14.0%
  11. Phoenix, AZ: 13.3%
  12. Dallas-Fort Worth, TX: 13.2%

Read more (and see a full list of the metros) at New Geography

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