This spring, I presented to the fine folks of C2ER on “Demographics 2020.” As always, I try to take high-level trends and demographics and make them useful for participants. In this case, I was trying to mobilize community researchers to design compelling cases for city councils, mayors, Chamber leaders, and others on the need to act now to avert brain drain.
Here are the sources I used to assemble the presentation:
Richard Jackson and Neil Howe present data galore in their sometimes-sleepy-but-pay-attention-for-the-nuggets presentation “Dangerous Demographics” at the New America Foundation. Watch it on YouTube.
The 400 fastest growing cities between 2006 and 2020. (Las Vegas is the highest ranked US city at #30 and Austin, TX follows at number 76)
Demographic Change and Local Government: An Overview of Issues. This is a nice collection of documents of all kinds related to aging populations, ethnic shifts, generational differences, immigration, etc.
Here are some ways you can use these demographics – and those provided by your own Labor Market Information smarties – to build your case:
To make a rough calculation of the economic impact of Brain Drain on your community:
- Tabulate your estimated workforce shrinkage;
- Tabulate the average salary of that shrinking population; and
- Multiply by 1.2.
To quickly show your community’s potential for Brain Drain relative to other communities:
- Make a list of the communities your city normally ‘benchmarks’ against, and add a few ‘cool communities’ to the list, e.g. Austin, Minneapolis, San Francisco. IMHO, most communities don’t have the courage to select cool communities against which to benchmark. But, they should. So just do it.
- Choose your city from the drop-down menu at Census Scope. Once you’ve generated your city’s age pyramid, take a screen shot of your city’s age pyramid. Then choose the other cities on your list, and take screen shots of their age pyramids.
- Compare other cities’ pyramids to your own to see your relative ‘youthfulness’ or ‘agedness.’
PS: I’ve learned that when you’re working with decision-makers, it’s best to “show, don’t tell.” A picture really does tell a thousand words, so it’s best to figure out how to show the numbers in an image (and I don’t mean a table).
If you have favorite sources you use to highlight demographic changes, please share them with me: firstname.lastname@example.org.