Where are the Workers? Scorecard Ranks Counties on Talent Development

Published on Nov 3, 2021

Updated on Nov 3, 2022

Written by Drew Repp

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Lightcast releases annual report on trends in talent attraction and how to develop strategies to improve.

(Moscow, Idaho) – Lightcast released its sixth annual Talent Attraction Scorecard, which ranks US counties on how well they’re doing at developing their talent pool, and outlines strategies on how to succeed in this tight labor market.  Four counties in the top five were there last year: Maricopa, AZ; Clark, NV; Collin, TX; and Williamson, TX.  But Montgomery County, TN, sitting about an hour northwest of Nashville, saw an impressive rise from No. 115 to the No. 6 spot due to growth in education attainment, population, and jobs.

The search for talent has moved from finding the candidate with the right skills to simply finding any candidate now that job openings have soared over 10 million.  This issue is highlighted by the fact that we have only 85 unemployed people for every 100 job openings. This scorecard not only shows where the talent is growing, but also outlines how these counties were successful and how others can replicate their efforts.


Launched six years ago, the Talent Attraction Scorecard ranks counties based on:

  • IRS migration data

  • Job growth (overall and skilled)

  • Education attainment

  • Regional competitiveness

  • Job openings per capita 

To provide an additional view and context, this year’s report also looks at professional  migration data of select major metros to see where people moved to in 2020. Three themes emerged:

  • The impact of decades of low birth rates is beginning to show

  • The attractiveness of suburbs and exurbs is growing

  • There is a regional trend of the Northwest, Mountain West, and Southeast earning high marks. Conversely, the coastal counties of California and the Northeast are struggling.

Key findings

  • Large county rankings: Maricopa County, AZ continues its reign in the number one spot, now taking the top honors in four of the last six years.

  • State-level rankings: At a state level, Texas and Florida maintain strong showings. Texas ranked three counties in the top 10 (Montgomery County, TX fell just out, from No. 9 to No. 11). Meanwhile, Florida now has 15 counties in the top 40.

  • Small county rankings: With only four counties holding on to their spots in the top 10 from last year—Reeves County, TX; Burke County, GA; Winkler County, TX; and Goochland County, VA.—the small county category had a fair amount of shakeup. 

But more important than where a community ranks, is how a community can improve and build upon its efforts. The strategies section dives into the six different phases of talent attraction and development that a community can use to climb in the rankings.  

People strategies for economic and workforce development

  • Stay in close contact with area executives and HR managers of your local businesses. Job postings data provides real-time info about employer intentions and their needs. It’s also important to recognize changes in worker trends. 

  • As your community seeks to upskill talent for new market demands, identifying aligned transitions—when an individual deploys their existing skills in a different environment or new way—is the place to start.

  • Whether your relationship with the community college system is new or longstanding, it may be worth considering establishing a formal partnership or joint initiative.

This year’s scorecard demonstrates that a talent development strategy is first and foremost a people strategy. Earlier this year our Demographic Drought report highlighted that with persistently low birth rates, baby boomers retiring, and the male labor force participation rate continuing to fall, finding people to perform the tasks businesses require will only become harder.

Download the Scorecard and check your region’s ranking here.

About Lightcast
Lightcast is the world’s leading authority on job skills, workforce talent, and labor market dynamics, providing expertise that empowers businesses, education providers, and governments to find the skills and talent they need and enables workers to unlock new career opportunities.

For more information on how our insights can help your community, please get in touch.