More education boosts economic strength of nation's metros
April 14, 2008
by G. Scott Thomas
graduates and post-graduates are important to a city's economic vitality. The
reason is as simple as their paychecks.
A recent federal report proves the
point. It shows that a worker holding a doctorate will earn 70 percent more, on
average, than a colleague with a bachelor's degree and 215 percent more than
someone who never progressed beyond high school.
And the gap widens every year, increasing the importance of higher education and
brainpower. Workers who don't keep pace are destined to pay the price.
"The decline of
labor unions and a decline in the minimum wage in constant dollars have
contributed to a relative drop in the wages of less educated workers," warns a
separate analysis by the Census Bureau.
But cities with educated workforces have a brighter economic future. A new
bizjournals study that ranks the brainpower levels of America's 100 largest
metropolitan areas finds that Madison, Wis., leads
Washington and San Jose are runners-up in bizjournals' study. Washington boasts
the nation's largest share of adults with advanced degrees, 22.2 percent, while
San Jose follows close behind in that category, a shade under 20 percent. Here
are profiles of the 10 metros that are the
The study's objective was to identify those metros that have the highest levels
of collective brainpower, as indicated by their residents' educational
Madison is blessed with three employment sectors that place a premium on
education. It's the home base for the 42,000-student University of Wisconsin,
the state government of Wisconsin (population: 5.6 million) and an expanding
number of biotechnology firms.
The result is a broadly educated workforce. Seventy-five percent of Madison's
adults have attended college, which is three percentage points ahead of any
other market. And its high-school dropout rate of 4.3 percent is easily the
lowest in the study.
The University of Wisconsin's chancellor, John Wiley, has been emphasizing the
link between education and economic success since assuming office in 2001.