Smart people of the highly educated sort that economists refer to as "human capital" are key engines of economic growth and development. More and more, they have been clustering in a relative handful of big cities. A recent post by Aaron M. Renn, who blogs as The Urbanophile, charts the changing density of college educated people across U.S. metro areas. His analysis builds on an earlier analysis by Rob Pitingolo (I blogged about it here), which introduced a measure of human capital density.
The chart above, from Renn's analysis, shows the metros which registered the biggest change in human capital (measured as the share of adults with a bachelor's degree or higher) over the decade spanning 2000 and 2009. New York County, which is Manhattan, registered far and away the largest increase. Renn notes that at first glance this might not seem so surprising, since New York is a big place. But a closer look at the numbers reveals that it is a very big deal indeed: "Frankly, it's staggering. Manhattan increased its density of people with college degrees by 7,500 people per square mile," which is more than the total population density of most of the cities in the United States. Kings County (Brooklyn), Queens, and the Bronx have also showed a marked increase in human capital density, clear evidence of greater New York's resurgence as a talent hub. Talent is increasingly drawn to big, dense cities; Renn's top ten counties are all in the greater New York, San Francisco, Boston or D.C. areas.