Monday, April 10, 2006

Do you live in a smart city?

The five "smartest" cities in America -- according to an Associated Press survey of Census data over the past 34 years -- don't include Los Angeles or New York, which only act smarter than everybody else.

No, the five most educated cities in the USA were No. 1 Seattle, followed by San Francisco; Raleigh, N.C.; Washington and Austin, Texas. (OK, I know it really rankles a lot of folks on both coasts to think that a Texas city is smarter, but that's just a pleasant by-product of this whole story!)

An interesting fact from the AP report:

"Nationally, a little more than one-fourth of people 25 and older had at least bachelor's degrees in 2004. Some 84 percent had high school diplomas or the equivalent. By comparison, in 1970 only a bit more than one in 10 adults had bachelor's degrees and about half had high school diplomas."

(When you live in Texas, you get tired of smart-asses elsewhere who are always joking about Bubba and trailer parks, so it's rather fun to have empirical evidence that the smart-asses ain't so smart.)

So what's the big deal? Who wants a bunch of smarty-pants neighbors?

Well, they're also rich neighbors. College graduates earn about two-thirds more money than high school graduates in 2004, according to the Census Bureau and AP. The median income - the point at which half make more and half make less - for adults with bachelor's degrees was $42,404, but it was $25,360 for high school graduates. Adults who did not graduate high school had a median income of $18,144.

Cities with few college graduates -- think Newark, Detroit and Cleveland -- have a hard time generating good-paying jobs, the AP said. That makes it difficult to attract more college graduates. And that's one reason why they are struggling to recover from the decline of U.S. manufacturing, the AP said.

(Yeah, but I still think it's hilarious that a Texas city is "smarter" than Boston, New York and Los Angeles!)

But also, the smart get smarter and the, um, less smart get less smart. Cities that need more skilled labor must welcome more educated outsiders, especially to improve local schools, the AP story said.

Gee, maybe some University of Texas graduates could help New York and L.A. improve their test scores.


Chancelucky said...

Just out of curiousity, where did Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio show up on the survey?

I was really surprised about Boston not making the top 5, but then it looks like they used "city limits" instead of metropolitan area and Cambridge isn't part of Boston while UT is in Austin city limits.

fwiw, I went to college in Texas for a year, not in Austin, people there seemed plenty bright. They just talked funny :}

SingingSkies said...

Even though we keep the legislative zoo in Austin, I wasn't surprised by it being in the top five. They've some mighty sharp people who live and work there to balance out the scale!

Ron Franscell said...

The rankings are at

Dallas the highest of the three, with 29% of its adult population having college degrees.

Houston was 27% (also the national average, by the way.)

San Antonio was 24%.

Chancelucky said...

Yeah, but I still want to see the survey of different cities wunderlic scores :}