Brain Gain Boosts Cleveland Toward New Economy

Brain Gain in ClevelandResearchers say that while public leaders have been worrying about brain drain in Cleveland, a new population of young professionals has been flocking to Cleveland.  Not only have these trendsetters been gushing into urban neighborhoods and making them hip, they’ve helped to raise education and income levels and are setting the stage for an innovative economy. According to the report, Cleveland has turned towards brain gain, an influx of well-educated people.

The new challenge is for Cleveland to stoke this new population pattern that’s unfolding at a favorable time.   The study’s authors predict an increase in jobs in high-skilled fields like engineering will have a multiplier effect, creating even more jobs in lower-skilled fields.  As Cleveland becomes more diverse, it will also become more employed.

The researchers also said that census reports often reflect cities in areas like Cleveland in an unforgiving light.  They tend to take broad glances at regions with subtle extremes. An older industrial city without a major university is going to have a larger senior population with lower educations.  Examining the education level of a region’s actual workforce would make more sense.  When reported this way, Cleveland performs much higher.  35 percent of the 25 to 44 age demographic holds a college degree—much higher than the national average.

4 Facts that Report Evidence of a Brain Gain in Cleveland

  • From 2003 to 2012, per capita income in the region rose from $33,359 to $44,775.
  • The number of college-educated 25 to 34 year olds in Greater Cleveland grew by 23 percent from 2006 to 2012.
  • The skill level of the young adult workforce ranks 7th nationally, ahead of San Francisco, Chicago, Seattle and Austin, for professional and graduate degrees.
  • The new Clevelanders are helping to create better neighborhoods in downtown, Tremont, Edgewater, Lakewood and Cleveland Heights–places where incomes are soaring.

The study also stated that while new cutting edge employers have helped Cleveland attract skilled workers, as the region gained about 63,000 college-educated residents from 2002 to 2012, it lost 74,000 people with no such degree.  Report authors cite research showing that each new high-tech job in a regional economy results in five additional jobs in the service sector, but that hasn’t quite offset the loss.   Cleveland will need to become a more highly skilled version of its current self.

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