Researchers Find 'Second Tier' Regions Experiencing Fast Rates of Change in Concentration of High-Skilled Workers

October 08, 2014

If a concentration of highly skilled workers is an important leading indicator to more widespread economic growth, which regions are leading the way? Using data from the Current Population Survey (CPS) to compare the educational attainment rates of the nation’s largest labor forces from 2005 to 2013, authors from the Cleveland State University Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs determine where America’s highest-skilled jobs are clustering. In ranking the percentage of labor force with a graduate or professional degree in 2013, the list of top five regions is perhaps unsurprising: Washington, D.C., San Jose, Boston, San Francisco, and New York – considered first-tier metros by nearly all accounts. In assessing the percent point change between the percentage of workers with an advanced degree in 2005 and in 2013, however, “second-tier” metros begin to emerge as leaders.

Although Washington, D.C., and San Francisco represented the first and fourth fastest rates of change in the employment of high-skilled workers, respectively, three of the top five fastest-growth metros can be defined as second tier: Providence, Indianapolis, and Cleveland – each with over a 5 percent point change. Between 2005 and 2013, Indianapolis rose 15 spots in rankings of the percent of labor force with an advanced degree to number nine, while Cleveland rose 12 spots to number 10. Although these emerging regions cannot match the top-tier metros in the number of advanced degree jobs gained, the data suggest they are indeed “moving up” in the knowledge economy hierarchy.

Read the report brief here…

workforce, metros, stats