Where Talent Is Migrating To — and From

8 Mar 2021


For the last five years, Emsi has been tracking how communities are faring in their efforts to attract and develop talent. Our Talent Attraction Index equally weighs six metrics: migration, growth of jobs and skilled workers, regional competitiveness, job openings, and education attainment to rank each county and create our Talent Attraction Scorecard.

Data for this year’s Scorecard captures where communities stood just before the pandemic hit. Perhaps one of the most notable results is that talent attraction is mirroring broader migration trends. Chiefly, talent is being drawn out of major metros to midsize markets. Counties between 250,000 and 1million in population made up more than half of our top 100. Markets such as Denver, Boise, and Spokane continue to rise in the rankings. At the same time, major metros such as New York, Los Angeles, and Houston, which have seen population growth stagnate, are struggling to retain talent, ranking near the bottom of the Scorecard.

Fueled by the expansion of remote work, this trend appears to have accelerated in 2020. Various data sets — from USPS change-of-address applications to real estate platform user searches to moving truck rentals — reveal that people are seeking alternatives to major metros.

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