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Report: Sarasota-Bradenton sees influx of college-educated residents

Sarasota, Florida
Sarasota, Florida
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As people move around the country, a phenomenon called “brain drain” is plaguing some U.S. cities. That is to say, people with college educations are leaving certain areas.

In two Gulf Coast metro areas, the opposite was true last year, according to HireAHelper, a company that specializes in moving.

In fact, Sarasota-Bradenton experienced the largest “brain gain” — or influx of college-educated residents — among metro areas around the country, the company reports.

In 2023, there was a 135% increase in college-educated people moving to the Sarasota-Bradenton area, according to the report. College-educated is defined as having at least a bachelor’s degree. 

While Sarasota-Bradenton topped the list of metros gaining college-educated residents, it was one of three Florida areas among the top 10 fastest-growing areas for college-educated residents in the country.

Jacksonville saw an 81% increase in people moving in with college education, making it the third fastest growing metro area for college-educated residents in the nation; and Tampa-St. Pete-Clearwater saw a 56% increase in college-educated people moving there, making it eighth, according to the study.

The top reasons for moving among college-educated people are getting a new job or transfer, moving in with a significant other or wanting to own rather than rent a home, HireAHelper reports. 

California dominated the list of major cities that experienced “brain drain,” with Oxnard losing 51% more college educated people than those who moved in. That number is 48% in San Jose; 32% in Los Angeles; and 25% in San Francisco, the report found. 

According to HireAHelper, the high cost of living, housing crisis and departure of tech workers were factors in California’s metro areas seeing “brain drain.”

While the Sunshine State dominated the metro areas that experienced "brain gain," Florida was not among the overall states with the highest net gains of college-educated people, nor was California among the states with the greatest "brain drain."

These are the states that saw the greatest net gains of college-educated residents in 2023, according to HireAHelper, which noted three do not have state income tax: Washington, South Carolina, Nevada, Wisconsin, Michigan, Wyoming, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Colorado and Rhode Island. 

States that saw the highest percentages of college-educated residents leave were South Dakota, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Missouri, New York, Arkansas, Alaska, Iowa and Alabama.



Elizabeth King

Elizabeth is a business news reporter with the Business Observer, covering primarily Sarasota-Bradenton, in addition to other parts of the region. A graduate of Johns Hopkins University, she previously covered hyperlocal news in Maryland for Patch for 12 years. Now she lives in Sarasota County.

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