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Original article URL: http://bridgemi.com/2014/02/immigrants-are-already-saving-michigan/

Economy & competitive position

Immigrants are already saving Michigan

If not for well-educated immigrants from Asia and Europe, Michigan would be losing thousands more college-educated residents every year, according to new U.S. Census data. The numbers hint at the potential brain gain the state could get from a sharp increase in immigration.

Michigan experienced a net annual loss of nearly 19,000 college graduates over the last five years to other states, a longstanding trend for the state. But those losses were partially offset by immigrants from the Far East and Europe, with more than half of the more than 14,000 immigrants over age 25 bringing a college degree with them.

All told, immigration from around the globe brought an estimated 11,000 college graduates to the state each year, the data shows.

What’s not known, however, is how many college-educated Michigan residents leave the country each year because the data is gleaned from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, which doesn’t track those leaving the U.S.

Michigan’s brain drain was compounded by the Great Recession, yet has eased since the worst of it more than five years ago. But the new census numbers show the state is still losing more than 1,000 college grads each year to California, Florida, Arizona, North Carolina, Texas and Illinois.

The data also show that Michigan continues to slip further behind the national average in the percentage of adults with a college degree, with just under 26 percent having a bachelor’s degree or better, compared with the national rate of 28.5 percent.

Of those leaving Michigan, more than 42 percent have a college degree, compared with 38 percent of those who move to Michigan from other states. But internationally, more than half of the better than 18,000 adult immigrants to Michigan from Asia and Europe have a college degree.

Those numbers have attracted interest from Gov. Rick Snyder, who recently proposed a state office to promote immigration. Snyder wants to bring 50,000 high-skilled immigrants to Detroit as part of his revitalization plan.

Legislators too are looking at brain drain. Modeled after an effort in Maine to retain that state’s college grads, state Rep. Andy Schor (D-Lansing) and state Sen. Glenn Anderson (D-Westland) are sponsoring bills that would give recent grads of Michigan universities and colleges a tax break if they stayed in the state.

The bills would make them eligible for a tax credit equal to one-half their annual student loan bill for five years, with a cap currently anticipated to be $1,500 annually.

“It’s saying, ‘You got educated here and we value your talent and here’s a tax credit,’ ” Schor said. “Why wouldn’t we want to create an incentive for people to stay here?”

The proposal is one attack on a gnawing problem: After the state poured hundreds of millions into higher education, its leaders are seeing so many of the state’s graduates seek their fortune in Chicago, New York or Minneapolis.

“I want to stop the flow of those graduates,” Anderson said.

College graduates have long been more likely to move, research shows. Indeed, only 23 percent of movers within Michigan have a college degree.

The latest data, released last week, also shows that Florida remains the No. 1 destination for all Michigan movers, attracting more than 18,000 people during the survey’s five-year span. Ohio is No. 2, then Texas, California and Illinois.

Mike Wilkinson is Bridge’s computer-assisted reporting specialist. Mike held a similar role at The Detroit News. See more stories by him here.

7 comments from Bridge readers.Add mine!

  1. The Mom

    I have four adult children: (1) no degree stayed in Michigan and is employed, (2) BS with multiple occupational certificates lives in Windsor and commutes to the States daily to work in an excellent job, (3) working on PhD as and lives out of state and is unlikely to return to Michigan, (4) has $150,000 education and was laid off in December 2012 due to Gov. Snyder’s slashing of the film industry incentives, is underemployed and still hoping for another digital film job in Michigan – LA looks really good when you can’t pay the rent….. Our family’s record doesn’t speak well for Michigan. What incentive do my husband and I have to stay in Michigan when we retire soon? We both have advanced degrees and make a good living now but can we afford to retire here? The brain-drain continues!

  2. Jeff Salisbury

    “Why wouldn’t we want to create JOBS (instead of tax credits) as an incentive for people to stay here?”

  3. Jeff Salisbury

    Between 2000 and 2009, the five states with the largest absolute growth of the immigrant population were Texas (1,086,000), California (1,083,000), Florida (813,000), Georgia (343,000), and New York (310,000). Wonder if it might be that those states have the most employment and/or post-secondary education opportunities available to immigrants? And by the way, of the immigrants who enter the US via Michigan, how many were still living in Michigan four years later?

  4. Charles Richards

    Mr. Wilkinson is more interested in computer graphics than he is in conveying significant information. He says, “Michigan experienced a net annual loss of nearly 19,000 college graduates over the last five years to other states, a longstanding trend for the state. But those losses were partially offset by immigrants from the Far East and Europe, with more than half of the more than 14,000 immigrants over age 25 bringing a college degree with them.” No. The 11,000 immigrants from the rest of the world did not offset the 19,000 college graduates who left. The 19,000 figure was net losses. The actual loss of college graduates was 30,000. And of what interest is it where Michigan’s college graduates went? And why would it matter if they left the country or not? (By the way, neither of the “Get the Data” links work.)

    The crucial point in all this verbiage and graphics is that Michigan suffers an annual net loss of 19,000 college graduates. A fact that undercuts Mr. Power’s support for Governor Snyder’s increase in funding for colleges and universities. Mr. Power’s lament about cuts to university funding ignores the fact that the supply of college grauates is not a binding constraint on Michigan’s economy.

  5. Mike

    Besides the draw of spreading your wings in a exotic local, Show Them the MONEY, more will stay.

  6. Eric

    It’s simpler to get a degree in socialist countries but harder to find work. Friend from Germany came here to work for Kroger HQ after not finding work in Germany where unemployment insurance lasts 6 mos.

  7. George

    With Amasters Degree from a Michigan based public university, am currently VERY underemployed. Ready to move out of Michigan if not out the USA ultimately.

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