By John Rees

During our travels, especially post-recession, we continue to hear the debate over what factors attract college-educated talent to a community. Some are loyal to the idea that tolerance, creativity and lifestyle amenities override job availability as the #1 driver. Others argue that smart people follow jobs and that employment availability alone is sufficient to attract college grads.

Avalanche believes that the most prosperous communities succeed at doing both. We decided to examine migration data to get to the heart of the matter.


talent migration

The chart above shows our analysis of metro regions with at least 500,000 workers. We tracked overall job growth from 2006 to 2011 (horizontal axis) and percentage of all 2011 in-migrants who hold a college degree (vertical axis).

Unsurprisingly, college graduates tend to flock to regions with robust job markets. However, even without job growth, regions known for offering a hip, tolerant and creative lifestyle successfully attracted thousands of college graduates. Communities such as Austin that can combine the best of both worlds—strong job growth and an enviable quality of life—have emerged as the country’s leading talent magnets.