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Bridge Michigan
Michigan’s nonpartisan, nonprofit news source

Guest post: How do we lure college grads to Michigan?

I was playing around with a variety of datasets the other day (I need a hobby) and came across a tabulation that I found quite interesting, in that it relates to the issue of attracting and retaining young people -- particularly educated ones -- in Michigan.

Previous work that I had done showed that we were not able to keep up with national averages on college educated 25- to 34-year-olds. Only 28.3 percent of Michigan’s 25- to 34-year-olds had a college degree in 2010, compared to a national average of 31.1 percent. Just think where we would be if it wasn’t for Washtenaw (55.9 percent) and Oakland (45.7 percent) counties.

My new find is that Michigan ranks last among states when it comes to the percentage of our 25- to 34-year-olds who were born somewhere outside the state.

While Table 1 (below) provides the complete ranking, allow me to provide the highlights.

More than three quarters (76.2 percent) of Michigan’s contingent was born in Michigan.  While we can assume that some of them spent some time away from the state -- maybe college, maybe a job, maybe just traveling -- they returned and joined the large share that never left.

Following Michigan on the homegrown grad front were Louisiana (75.6 percent), Ohio (74.1 percent), Wisconsin (68.8 percent) and Mississippi (68.3 percent). As might be expected (or not), the states with the highest rates of attracting non-native college grads are Nevada (15.6 percent), District of Columbia (21.1 percent), Arizona (35 percent), Florida (35.3 percent) and Colorado (36.4 percent). The high shares of in-migrants for Arizona and Florida demonstrate clearly that they are not just magnet states for the elderly.  They have experienced population growth across all age segments and the 25- to 34-year-old cohort in each represent a larger share of the total population than in Michigan.

So ... what are we saying?

We want to make every effort to educate our residents and retain them.

We need to make every effort to convince non-Michigan residents who we are educating in our universities to remain after graduation.

We need to make every effort to attract non-Michigan-born graduates to relocate.

The outline is clear.  Now let’s do it!

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