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Economy

Talent May Be Shifting Away From Superstar Cities

According to a new analysis, places away from the coasts in the Sunbelt and West are pulling ahead when it comes to attracting talented workers.
Macon, Georgia. Twiggs County, which is part of the Macon Metropolitan Statistical Area, is a leading talent attractor among small U.S. counties, according to Emsi's new scorecard.
Macon, Georgia. Twiggs County, which is part of the Macon Metropolitan Statistical Area, is a leading talent attractor among small U.S. counties, according to Emsi's new scorecard.Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

In recent years, America has increasingly been defined by a winner-take-all geography, with coastal superstar cities like New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Washington, D.C., garnering a disproportionate share of high-tech startups, corporate headquarters, and innovation and talent. But surging costs and inequality in these places—elements of what I call the New Urban Crisis—may be shaping the beginnings of a shift in talent to other parts of the country.

That’s the upshot of the newly released 2019 Talent Attraction Scorecard from Emsi, a company that analyzes labor-market data. This edition of the scorecard covers America’s 3,000-plus counties, breaking out the data for three types: big counties (with more than 100,000 people), small and medium-size counties (with between 5,000 and 100,000 residents), and very small, micro-counties (with fewer than 5,000 people). The analysis is based on Emsi’s Talent Attraction Index, which is comprised of six key metrics: job growth, skilled job growth, net migration, annual openings for skilled workers (per capita), educational attainment growth (based on adults with associate degrees and above), and a broad measure of regional competitiveness.