Brain power

Austin graduates to top of class in new ranking of America's smartest cities

Austin graduates to top of class on ranking of smartest U.S. cities

Austin Central Library
With a Central Library like this one, of course Austin is among the smartest cities in the country. Austin Public Library/Flickr

Austin — home to one of the country’s biggest universities — sits near the head of the class when it comes to the smartest metro areas in the U.S., according to a new study.

In the study, published July 22 by personal finance website WalletHub, Austin ranks ninth among the most-educated metros. It’s by far the highest-ranked Texas metro, with Dallas-Fort Worth at No. 71, Houston at No. 90, and San Antonio at No. 106. Near the bottom of the 150-metro list are McAllen (No. 148) and Brownsville (No. 149).

WalletHub’s 2018 ranking put Austin at No. 8, one notch above this year's showing.

Ahead of Austin in this year’s national ranking are first-place Ann Arbor, Michigan, followed by San Jose, California; Washington, D.C.; Durham-Chapel Hill, North Carolina; Madison, Wisconsin; San Francisco; Boston; and Seattle.

To determine where the most-educated Americans live, WalletHub compared the 150 largest metros across 11 metrics. That data includes the share of adults 25 and older with at least a bachelor’s degree, the quality of public schools, and the gender gap in education.

Here’s how Austin fared across some of the data categories (lower ranking is better):

  • No. 10 — Share of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree
  • No. 12 — Quality of public schools
  • No. 13 — Share of adults with an associate’s degree or college experience
  • No. 18 — Students enrolled in top 951 universities per capita
  • No. 20 — Share of adults with a graduate or professional degree
  • No. 20 — Average quality of universities
  • No. 51 — Black-versus-white education gap
  • No. 60 — Women-versus-men education gap
  • No. 72 — Share of residents with a high school diploma

Economic boosters regularly tout the well-educated workforce in the Austin area as one of its strong suits. According to the Austin Chamber of Commerce, nearly 45 percent of adults in the Austin area hold at least a bachelor’s degree, compared with 32 percent nationwide.

More than 50 colleges and universities are within a 100-mile radius of Austin, the chamber adds. Among them is the University of Texas’ flagship campus, where more than 51,800 students were enrolled for the fall 2018 semester.

“Taken as a whole, Austin’s economy has been the envy of many cities for its exceptional workforce, small business growth, entrepreneurship, and overall healthy business climate,” according to the City of Austin’s Imagine Austin initiative.