Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Keeping Up With The High Cost of Living

I found a link on Frontburner to a fascinating piece called Where Are the Braniacs Going? It's from a public policy institute focusing on urban governance called the Manhattan Institute. The gist is that cities like Dallas (and I'll bet Fort Worth) are picking up more educated migrants. Why? The low cost of living.

Our analysis of the 2000 Census and the 2005 American Community Survey makes one thing clear: the strong net “brain gain” of places such as Boston, San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles over the past 40 years appears to have been reversed in most of the premier “knowledge” regions since the mid-1990s. The San Francisco Bay Area and Minneapolis have both suffered especially dramatic reversals from net in-migration of educated people to a strong out-migration over the past 15 years.

So where are these people going? Riverside-San Bernardino, Phoenix, Charlotte, Atlanta, Dallas and Houston have been picking up educated migrants over the past decade. Most of these cities are not usually ranked among the most “hip and cool” areas. Houston (energy), Dallas (technology) and Charlotte (banking) possess some highly concentrated, high-end industrial clusters, while others do not. But all these areas have also enjoyed stronger job growth over the past fifteen years than the traditional brain centers. In most cases, this job-growth pattern also applies to higher wage fields such as financial and business services.

One critical factor in attracting educated workers may be “relative” costs. The Portland and Seattle areas, for example, have continued to show fairly consistent net in-migration of educated people over the past decade and a half. Although not cheap compared to Dallas or Houston, these metropolitan areas are bargains for people migrating from the Bay Area, Boston and other elite high-tech centers.

After all, see what $800,000 gets you in San Francisco and in Fort Worth.

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