Thursday, September 14, 2006

skilled workers

The current issue of Area Development Magazine has this article about the importance of a skilled workforce in site selection. It's main point is that its the high school dropout rate that is one of the more important factors that firms should consider. For all educational attainment metrics you just have to adjust for Pittsburgh's age demographic to get a meaninful comparision between us and other regions. The fact that we have more elderly in the region means we have more of a generation that typically did not get as much formal education as younger generations. But since most elderly are out of the workforce, that does matter as much to current recruiting. You need to look at educational attainment within the working age population, probably the young working age population which is the main recruiting pool for new hires.

So.. of course one should usually look at regional educational attainment data, but I have a table of city data from 2000. For the population 25-34, the young working age population, if you look at the nation's 60 largest cities you get this top ten list of the % of population with a high school degree or higher:

94.0% VA, Virginia Beach
93.2% WA, Seattle
92.1% HI, Honolulu
91.9% CO, Colorado Springs
91.3% PA, Pittsburgh
91.2% CA, San Francisco
89.6% OH, Columbus
88.5% MA, Boston
88.4% OR, Portland
88.1% MN, Minneapolis

The few that are higher than Pittsburgh include some predominently military places. A high school degree was a requirement for most service recruits in the 1990's so I would say those are not fair comparisons in this context. but what are the lowest ranked cities:

72.2% TX, Fort Worth
71.7% AZ, Phoenix
70.5% CA, Long Beach
69.4% TX, Houston
69.0% CA, Fresno
68.4% TX, Dallas
65.9% FL, Miami
65.3% CA, Los Angeles
63.7% CA, Anaheim
42.9% CA, Santa Ana

So a fairly wide range with Pittsburgh near the top. Yes.. I would quibble with the ranking of cities and not regions, but it's still useful to look at any metric where Pittsburgh stands out so far. It also says something about the concentration of these workers and students within the region as well.


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