Local News

College Grads Flocking To Raleigh, Wake County

Posted January 31, 2006

— He grew up and went to college in South Carolina, but Frankie Hagan now calls Wake County home.

"This is a place a young professional can definitely make their mark on a community and go somewhere," said Hagan, who is a local Realtor.

College graduates are coming to Raleigh and Wake County for jobs. Many of the 10,000 students from schools in the Triangle choose to stay in the area after graduation -- and is part of the reason Wake County stands out nationwide.

In 2004, nearly 50 percent of Wake County's population was a college graduate over 25 years of age -- twice the state and national average.

The amount of people living in Wake County with a college diploma could get even higher. Since 1980, the educated population has grown by about 10 percent every 10 years.

Chamber of Commerce president Harvey Schmitt said the amount of college alumni in Wake County is great for economic development. He said companies have located to the area and will continue to do so because of the intelligent employee pool.

"They are looking for people who can make their companies innovative and globally competitive," Schmitt said.

He pointed to a decision by financial services Credit Suisse to locate to the area.

"They chose this marketplace because they could find the brainpower they needed here," said Schmitt. "Not necessarily because they were perfectly trained, but could be trained with what they wanted to do."

There are some downsides, however. North Carolina State University economist Mike Walden says the more educated people are, the higher their salaries. He believes that leaves others with long commutes.

"When you are not highly educated and don't make as much money, you can't afford the high housing prices that usually go along with an area where there is a high level of education with the population," said Walden.

Still, leaders said high brainpower today is the water and natural resources of the 20th century. It's what many believe will make Wake County succeed.

According to the U.S. Census, education levels bode well for a city's economic success. More than half of America's 20 most educated cities also rank at the top of the list of the country's most prosperous cities.


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