Meet the brain magnet that is metro Seattle

My colleague Gene Balk reported on how people from other states and countries have become the top drivers of growth in King County, more so than natives of Washington state. One of the back stories is that metro Seattle is attracting large numbers of college degree holders.

Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue ranked 11th nationally in the share of out-of-state adults with a bachelor’s degree, according to a Brookings Institution analysis. A total of 48.1 percent of prime-age adults fit this category here. No. 1 was Silicon Valley, at 59 percent, followed by Washington, D.C., and Boston, both around 56 percent.

The average for 100 metro areas was 41 percent.

Meanwhile, 35.2 percent of in-state adults with bachelor’s degrees were counted in the metro area. That ranked us No. 17 among large metros in the differential. (The two numbers don’t comprise 100 percent).

From the report: “In the average large metropolitan area, 59 percent of prime-age bachelor’s degree holders were born outside their current state of residence. But that share ranges from only 23 percent in Buffalo to a staggering 92 percent in Las Vegas. In fact, 20 of the 100 largest U.S. metro areas have effectively “imported” at least 70 percent of their highly educated workers from out of state.” Seattle ranks 19th, at 72.5 percent. Las Vegas, no tech superstar, led at more than 91 percent.

Metro Seattle is drawing worldwide top talent for its technology industries. But it raises issues of rising inequality and whether native-born Washingtonians are being left behind. Seattle is heavily dependent on imported talent. Amy Liu of Brookings discussed some of this in a recent speech here.



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