Talent Attraction: The Importance of ‘Talent Churn’

May 3, 2013

By John Rees

Places such as Austin and Denver are often recognized for their phenomenal success in attracting college-educated migrants. But there’s another less discussed quality that the country’s leading talent magnets also benefit from – talent churning.

One might think that communities with the greatest net increase of college-educated people are simply attracting more people than they lose. But this is not necessarily the case.

Our research reveals that top performing metros export and import talent at higher rates than other communities. Strong economies experience a constant churn of talent as new people move into the region and others depart for other locales.

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How does talent churn translate into economic performance? It ensures that a community has a continual injection of new ideas. Some of these ideas might be based on creative practices incomers experienced in other communities. They also tend to reject status quo. Just as creative destruction threatens old industries by giving rise to innovative upstarts (Blockbuster versus Netflix), fresh thinking is often exactly what economically stagnant regions need to become more competitive.