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!

Facts matter. Trust matters. Journalism matters.

If you learned something from the story you're reading please consider supporting our work. Your donation allows us to keep our Michigan-focused reporting and analysis free and accessible to all. All donations are voluntary, but for as little as $1 you can become a member of Bridge Club and support freedom of the press in Michigan during a crucial election year.

Pay with VISA Pay with MasterCard Pay with American Express Donate now

Comment Form

Add new comment

Dear Reader: We value your thoughts and criticism on the articles, but insist on civility. Criticizing comments or ideas is welcome, but Bridge won’t tolerate comments that are false or defamatory or that demean, personally attack, spread hate or harmful stereotypes. Violating these standards could result in a ban.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.


Thu, 02/02/2012 - 5:47pm
"The outline is clear. Now let’s do it!" You outlined the situation but I missed what your solution was to be..???
Jeffrey L Salisbury
Thu, 02/09/2012 - 8:41am
So what should we do? Overall employment is projected to increase about 14 percent during the 2010–2020 decade with more than half a million NEW jobs expected to come from each of four occupations — 1. registered nurses, 2. retail salespersons, 3. home health care aides, and 4. personal care aides In addition occupations that typically need some post-secondary education for entry-level positions are projected to grow faster than average. HOWEVER occupations that typically need a high school diploma or even less will continue to represent more than half of all jobs through at least 2020. - extracted from the Bureau of Labor Statistics latest report - January 2012 So, do we keep sending more and more of our young people on to obtain 4-years degrees? Or do we realign secondary education curriculum to encourage and develop the next generation of non-degreed vocationally-skilled workforce-ready high school graduates in all the fields listed above (and more in the report) ? Or do we saddle more young people with more college debt destined to work in jobs for which (by their education) they are over-qualified? What if we are to face shortages in these important jobs that we all rely on? Will we start importing foreign workers (cheaper labor) to fill jobs here in the USA because we stupidly keep sending more and more students off to college? It would seem all so.