Tuesday, June 17, 2014

So Who Are These People Who Want to Move Here?

Posted By on Tue, Jun 17, 2014 at 9:00 AM

We know that Nashville's hot, and that as a result people want to move here. And we know from Census Bureau data that they are moving here, the numbers putting Nashville among the fastest growing large metro areas both in the last few years and since 2000. That's great ... we love newcomers, right? But who are these mooks relocating here?

Demographers don't call it relocating; they call it migration, and The Atlantic's CityLab project is out with a nifty new analysis of migration in and out of U.S. cities — specifically, a look at the education level of people coming and going. So are we attracting smart, educated humans to Nashville? Can't really speak to "smart," but here's what the analysis says about the education level for domestic migration to Nashville (which means it excludes immigrants):

citylab_nashville_500x282.png

It's data from a single year, so just a snapshot, but that snapshot suggests that on net we are losing our most educated residents, with the inflow of newcomers looking like a balanced mix of college educated and non-college folks. How does this compare with other cities, especially those with whom we like to compare ourselves? The answer in the form of, yes, lots more bar charts after the jump.

For comparison I've pulled charts from CityLab for two sets of cities. The first is a set of three sunbelt metro areas we often either compare Nashville to or benchmark against:

cityset1.jpg


These pictures show two big things that separate Austin and Charlotte from us. First, those cities are attracting more highly educated migrants — large net inflows of people with bachelor's and postgraduate degrees. And second, although those two metro areas are similar in size to Nashville, look at how much bigger their raw numbers are: Charlotte's net domestic migration is three times Nashville's, and Austin's almost four times. Atlanta, by contrast, is attracting a markedly less educated influx of new residents than us, and is actually may be having problems holding on to its educated workforce.

The second set of comparison cities are the tech-centric metro areas out west you see here:

cityset2.jpg

I include these to show just how far out of the big leagues we remain in attracting the kind of very educated talent influx that some cities are enjoying. Putting together the two sets of comparison cities, we can see that Austin and Charlotte are approaching this level of well-educated migration; we aren't.

As noted above, this analysis excludes movement of immigrants. A prior CityLab post broke down flows of population in and out of metro areas in 2013 into their international (inflow of immigrants) and domestic components. Nashville, like most cities, showed net inflows in both categories. The exceptions were the largest cities: net migration was negative — more people leaving than coming — in New York, L.A., Chicago, Philadelphia, and Miami.

A version of this post also appears at BruceBarry.net.

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