How We Did It: Judging Smart Cities
by G. Scott Thomas Dec 01 2010
A closer look at how Portfolio.com determined which of the 200 largest metropolitan areas in the United States were the smartest and which might want to go back to school.
Brain Bounty or Brain Busted? Brain Bounty or Brain Busted?
How smart is your community? If it's anything like Boulder, Colorado, then it's tops in terms of brainpower, according to a Portfolio.com survey of the 200 largest U.S. markets.
What separates a city like Boulder, Colorado from a place like Merced, California? One word: education.
Portfolio.com devised a formula to rate the brainpower of U.S. metropolitan areas. Here are the details:
Goal: The study’s objective was to identify those markets with the strongest collective brainpower, as indicated by their residents’ educational attainment.
Areas: The study focused on America’s 200 largest metros. The markets ranged in size from the New York City area, with 19.07 million residents, down to Burlington, Vermont, with 207,600.
Source: All raw data used in the study came from the American Community Survey, which was conducted in 2009 and released in September 2010 by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Factors: Portfolio.com established scores for five levels of educational attainment, based on the relative earning power of adult workers (25 or older). Scores were determined by comparing the 2007 median income for all workers ($33,452) with the median income for those workers at a specified educational level. Medians and the resulting scores are listed below:
* Dropped out before high-school graduation (median of $19,405; 0.58 points)
* Stopped at high-school diploma (median of $26,894; 0.80 points)
* Stopped at associate degree or attended college, but stopped without any degree (median of $32,874; 0.98 points)
* Stopped at bachelor’s degree (median of $46,805; 1.40 points)
* Earned graduate and/or professional degree (median of $61,287; 1.83 points)
Scoring: Each adult was assigned a score based on his or her highest level of educational attainment. Points for all adults (25 or older) within a market were averaged, yielding a raw figure that was converted to a final score. Above-average performances received positive scores, while below-average results received negative scores. Final scores ranged from 3.941 for Boulder, Colorado, to minus-2.558 for Merced, California.
For a slideshow of the 25 smartest U.S. metropolitan areas, click here. And to get the entire list comparing 200 markets, download a PDF here.