Discussion Paper

Leading, lagging, and left behind: identifying metropolitan leaders and labor market outcomes


Abstract: From 1990 to 2010, the United States underwent significant changes in the makeup of the population and its educational attainment. During the period, bachelor's degree or higher attainment proportions rose significantly?7.9 percentage points?from 20.3 percent in 1990 to 28.2 percent in 2010. This growth happened unevenly, though. Of 283 metropolitan areas, only 78 were above the 7.9 percentage point increase, suggesting much more concentrated growth than would be expected if growth were experienced evenly. This paper documents the concentration of growth and examines four labor market outcomes in the 78 \"leader metros.\" Unexpectedly, labor market outcomes are not even or common across these metros, suggesting that growth in the proportion of the population holding a BA or higher degree will have different effects depending on local conditions. It also suggests that increasing BA+ attainment at the population level is not a solution to all labor market challenges equally. The analysis suggests that considering local products and their related demands for labor are important steps in developing human capital?based economic development strategies.

Keywords: educational attainment; labor markets; inequality; talent attraction and retention; metropolitan areas;

JEL Classification: J10; O21; R11;

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Bibliographic Information

Provider: Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta

Part of Series: FRB Atlanta Community and Economic Development Discussion Paper

Publication Date: 2015-10-01

Number: 2015-4