Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Ironic Talent Migration

Strange patterns of holiday travel:

The holiday rush is on at Metro Airport [Detroit], as Christmas travelers make their way from the cab and the curb to the luggage check-in.

Long lines formed soon after 5 a.m. Wednesday to catch the early morning flights to such destinations as Florida, Las Vegas, and California.

That's where Kyler Krause and his wife were headed, after moving from southern California to Michigan earlier this year after graduating from college. Their move is on contrast to the much-documented "brain drain" ailing this state.
"Actually I was one fo the few people to get a job out here, so here we are." But for the holidays, the Krauses will be visiting family and friends before skiing in the Sierras.

The surprise stems from the common misunderstanding of brain drain as everyone only leaving a region. There is always some churn between two places. Michigan should study its in-migration and figure out how to get more talent into those established pipelines leading to the state.


Stephen Gross said...

You make a very good point: we should identify the inmigration pipelines and maximize them. So! Who's moving in to places like detroit, Cleveland, etc.?

Jim Russell said...

Most of the in-migration comes from other Rust Belt cities. That's healthy talent churn. But the same kind of exchange exists between shrinking cities and alpha/beta global cities. For example, Pittsburgh is paired with DC. That makes the DC region a good place to recruit more foreign born to Pittsburgh.

The policy prescription starts with mapping a city's talent migration connectivity profile. These established patterns tend to be overlooked with so much attention given to the places where natives are moving and how to stop that "brain drain".