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Six Texas counties ranked among the best nationwide as talent, economic powerhouses

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(The Center Square) – Six of the top 10 counties in the entire country ranked as top talent and economic powerhouses with among the highest inbound migration in 2023 are in Texas.

According to Lightcast’s 2023 Talent Attraction Scorecard, Texas ranked second among states nationwide and six of Texas’ largest counties were ranked among the best in an analysis evaluating the “talent attraction landscape across the US.”

“Attracting and retaining talent is essential to further economic growth within states and communities,” Dr. Christopher Laney, Lightcast Director of Government Affairs & Workforce Strategy, explains in the report. Lightcast, a global leader in labor market analytics, provides data, software, and consulting services to a range of industries.

The Scorecard evaluated IRS migration data, “a key indicator of talent attraction,” for large and small counties, populations over 100,000 and between 5,000 and 100,000, respectively. The data shows year-to-year address changes reported on tax returns, which Lightcast evaluated to determine which communities gained new residents.

The report also evaluated key metrics, including, education attainment, job growth, skilled job growth, job openings, competitive effect, and migration to score states and counties.

According to its evaluation of the metrics, Texas ranked first for competitive effect, third for migration, fourth for job growth, sixth for skilled job growth, eighth for education attainment, and 35th for the number of job openings.

Overall, when combined, Texas ranked second nationwide behind Florida, with the Sunbelt and popular remote work destinations tending “to do well in talent attraction,” the report found.

Texas dominated among states with the largest counties that ranked in the top 10.

They include: Collin (2nd), Travis (3rd), Denton (4th), Fort Bend (5th), Williamson (6th), and Montgomery (10th).

In the top five were two north Texas counties in the Dallas area: Collin and Denton. By metrics, Collin County ranked second in the country for migration, third for competitive effect, fourth for skilled job growth, and 10th for job growth. Denton County ranked sixth for skilled job growth, seventh for migration, 13th for job growth, and 13th for competitive effect.

“Across North Central Texas, we prioritize workforce development and business needs. Our region represents diverse industries, indicating that businesses can find the skilled talent they need within our workforce development service area,” Phedra Redifer, Executive Director of Workforce Solutions for North Central Texas, said in the report. “North Central Texas remains an attractive hub for career seekers with unlimited opportunities for professional and sustainable growth. The synergy between businesses finding a skilled workforce and career seekers finding opportunities fuels our region’s prosperity.”

Travis and Williamson counties’ rankings reflect the massive growth in Austin and its surrounding areas. By metrics, Travis County ranked first for competitive effect, 10th for skilled job growth, 11th for job openings, and 19th for job growth. Williamson County ranked sixth for migration, 12th for job growth, 13th for education attainment, and 16th for skilled job growth.

Fort Bend and Montgomery counties’ rankings reflect significant growth in areas south and north of the largest city in Texas of Houston, respectively. This year was also the first time Fort Bend County ranked in the top 10, the report notes.

By metrics, Fort Bend County ranked third for skilled job growth, 10th for migration and 11th for job growth. Montgomery County ranked eighth for migration, 29th for skilled job growth and 32nd for competitive effect.

“The successes of those regions didn’t come from nowhere—they’re the result of dedicated efforts to enhance job opportunities, educational excellence, and overall livability,” the report states.

Gov. Greg Abbott agrees, having argued that “Texas’ continuing economic expansion, well ahead of the United States as a whole … is further proof that when given the freedom to aspire, businesses invest and people prosper.”

He also credits Texas’ economic success to its workforce, saying, “Opportunity knows no bounds in Texas thanks to the hardworking men and women of this great state.”

The ranking is consistent with other top rankings Texas won this year.

Texas’ economy expanded faster than the national economy for four consecutive quarters in 2023. Texas also led the U.S. in job creation again every month for over two years and broke its own monthly employment records as it had in previous consecutive months.

This year, Texas also won numerous awards for its top economic and business climate, ranking first for having the most job-creating business relocations and expansions in the country.

By comparison, California ranked 49th and New York ranked 50th, according to the report.

California also ranked 50th for migration and 50th for education attainment. New York ranked 50th for competitive effect, 49th for migration, and 46th for job growth.

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