10 U.S. cities with largest gain in college graduates

It's not the West Coast, and it's not northeastern cities, like New York, so what cities are seeing the biggest gains in college graduates?

It's a common misconception that college-educated people are flocking to coastal cities, like Boston or New York, says Joel Kotkin at New Geography.

Kotkin and his colleagues measured the gains in college graduates compared to the population -- over 25 years of age -- in the 52 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. between 2007-2009.

His conclusion:

College graduates, for the most part, are heading not to the big cities on the coasts, but to smaller, less dense and quite often Sun Belt cities.

Here are the top brain magnets:

1. New Orleans-Metairie-Kenner, La.

  • Grad Gain: 36,666
  • 5.42% gain from 25+ 2007 population

2. Raleigh-Cary, N.C.

  • Grad gain: 28,748
  • 4.27% gain from 25+ 2007 population

3. Austin-Round Rock, Texas

  • Grad gain: 42,117
  • 4.23% gain from 25+ 2007 population

4. Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, Tenn.

  • Grad gain: 36,975
  • 3.68% gain from 25+ 2007 population

5. Kansas City, Mo./Kan.

  • Grad gain: 38,398
  • 2.96% gain from 25+ 2007 population

6. Birmingham-Hoover, Ala.

  • Grad gain: 21,111
  • 2.86% gain from 25+ 2007 population

7. San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, Calif.

  • Grad gain: 51,151
  • 2.71% gain from 25+ 2007 population

8. Denver-Aurora-Broomfield, Colo.

  • Grad gain: 43,853
  • 2.69% gain from 25+ 2007 population

9. Columbus, Ohio

  • Grad gain: 29,515
  • 2.6% gain from 25+ 2007 population

10. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Wash.

  • Grad gain: 53,869
  • 2.39% gain from 25+ 2007 population

New Orleans is definitely a surprise at the top. But, as Kotkin explains, it likely has to do with the return of residents after Hurricane Katrina.

A recent report from the Census Bureau estimates that area's population in the past decade has shrunk 29%. Recovery in the urban core has remained patchy, but suburban populations have recovered more quickly from the disaster.

Beyond that the list continues to surprise with southern cities in the top four and no northeastern cities in the top 10.

Though, the study does seem to be misleading because it is looking at gains in college grads rather than percentage of the population that is college educated. So while New York might not be gaining the percentage of college grads as New Orleans, it's not because New York isn't an intellectual capital. It seems to be more of a study on the cities that are improving their rates of college graduates, rather than a study on intellectual hot spots.

Ultimately, though, New York might be a popular aspiration for college grads, but college grads -- like anyone -- have to go where they can get work.

[College graduates] may want to go one place--for example, ever-alluring New York or sunny Los Angeles--but may soon find they can find neither a good job there nor an affordable place to live in order to stay there. Overall our analysis shows that many end up in places with lower housing prices.

What do you think about the study?

Photo: wallyg/Flickr

[Via Planetizen]

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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