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Top 10 (US) cities for young smart people


I’m always on the lookout for great websites and communities dedicated to cities. And today, thanks to a friend of mine, I found a new one called City Observatory. It’s my new favorite site for city geeks.

They describe themselves as a “data-driven platform for sharing, analyzing and discussing the success of cities.” As soon as I read that, I immediately subscribed. I’m a big believer in using data to elevate the discussions happening around our cities and to cut through the bullshit.

I’m looking forward to digging into more of their articles, but I did already take a look at the first report they published, which is called: “The Young and Restless and the Nation’s Cities”. Click here to download the PDF.

What the report talks about is a demographic group that they refer to as “Young and Restless”, and which they define as being 25-34 years old and having a 4-year degree. And they focus on this group because they see it as critical to driving local economic development.

They’re the next generation who are going to start those companies and drive growth and innovation. And since the data shows that as people age, they become less willing to relocate (which intuitively makes sense), cities today are quickly realizing that they need to capture this group of smart people while they’re still restless (i.e. mobile).

So if this is important, which cities (in the US) are winning right now? Here are the top 10 cities via City Observatory:

  1. Washington D.C. 8.1%
  2. San Francisco 7.6%
  3. Boston/Cambridge 7.6%
  4. San Jose 7.5%
  5. Denver 7.5%
  6. Austin 7.0%
  7. New York 6.6%
  8. Minneapolis 6.6%
  9. Raleigh 6.5%
  10. Seattle 6.1%

The percentage represents the portion of the population that’s 25-34 years old and has a 4-year degree. I’ve just listed the cities here, but in reality they reference the entire metro areas.

Do any of the cities on this list surprise you? None are surprises for me. It’s more or less what I would have expected to see, except maybe for the absence of Chicago (it’s 12th according to this ranking).

Is your city doing enough to capture this group?

Image: Flickr

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