GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) – For a region that touts itself as having a strong foundation for education, this comes as disappointing news.
WalletHub, the financial advice site known for taking data and turning it into evaluations of quality and impact, has ranked Greensboro/High Point at No. 101 in its evaluation of the 150 metro markets that are the Most Educated Cities.
Yes, the metropolitan statistical area that includes NC A&T, UNC-Greensboro, High Point University, some of Elon University, Greensboro College, Guilford College, Bennett College and a vibrant community college was found to be in the bottom third of the markets WalletHub evaluated.
Winston-Salem, home of prestigious Wake Forest University, was even worse, ranking No. 111.
The good news is that the rest of North Carolina fared pretty well, with two areas ranking among the top eight. More on that later.
This news about Greensboro is somewhat ironic, given that Boom Supersonic noted the educational opportunities when in January it announced it would invest billions to build the manufacturing facility at Piedmont Triad International Airport.
Toyota also cited the educated workforce as a reason it is investing even more billions to build its first battery manufacturing facility at the Greensboro-Randolph Megasite near Liberty.
And both candidates in Greensboro’s mayoral race cited the strong educational community as a strength. Yet, now we learn that our shots aren’t all that hot after all.
To get to this point, WalletHub compared the MSAs across what it called two key dimensions, including “Educational Attainment” and “Quality of Education & Attainment Gap.” Those included 11 metrics, which were weighted and graded on a 100-point scale. Each area then was given a weighted value that led to the rankings.
Greensboro- High Point’s score was 48.41, with a ranking of 105th for what is called the Educational Attainment, which compares percentages of adults to achieve various educational levels (high school to graduate degrees), and 37th for Quality of Educational & Attainment Gap, which deals with the quality of public education systems and universities, balancing with various achievements by residents and some demographic groups. So No. 37 isn’t too bad for that.
But Ann Arbor, Michigan, home to the University of Michigan, ranked No. 1 in BOTH categories. The No. 2 market of San Jose, California, was No. 5 in both. Madison, Wisconsin, which ranked fourth overall, was No. 2 for attainment, but No. 2 for the quality category was Fayetteville, Arkansas, which ranked 70th overall.
Rounding out the overall top 5 were Washington, D.C. (and its suburbs in Virginia and Maryland), and San Francisco-Oakland.
Ranking 7th was Durham-Chapel Hill, as you might expect, followed immediately by Raleigh-Cary. Asheville was No. 28, and North Carolina got credit for being attached to Virginia Beach at No. 42. The Charlotte area was No. 53, and, after Winston-Salem, Fayetteville was No. 114, and Hickory/Lenoir was No. 145.
Following Hickory in the bottom five were Modesto, California, Bakersfield, California, McAllen, Texas, Brownsville, Texas, and Visalia, California.
You may not agree on the principal points that led to this evaluation, but you must agree that having a highly educated workforce is especially important to a community’s financial success.
“To an extent, ‘highly educated’ cities can withstand financial turbulence better than those without strong educational systems,” WalletHub expert Michael T. Miller, a professor of higher education at the University of Arkansas, said in a release. “Education equates to opportunity, things like workplace flexibility and rapid response to changing workplace demands.
“So, a community that has better schools and postsecondary access generally can provide opportunities that would otherwise not be present in providing jobs to citizens.”
Greensboro’s unemployment rates are slightly higher than North Carolina’s, averaging about 4.2% vs. the state and national 3.6%. In North Carolina, Duke, UNC, Wake Forest and Davidson all have among the highest graduation rates in the country.