“Rural America needs to rethink its description of gains and losses,” Winchester said. “If rural America is losing high-school educated youth (the brain drain) and replacing them with those (who) at least have a bachelor’s (degree), isn’t this a brain gain?”The new arrivals have other advantages, according to the University of Nebraska researchers: “The majority of the newcomers are in their prime earning years, so they are increasing the labor force in the region. Many new residents possess professional occupation skills. … Many were also involved in their previous community (and) bring volunteer and leadership experience.”Winchester said his own findings “remind us that the changes we witness across rural Minnesota are complex and reflect not just challenges, but significant opportunities.”
As with those elsewhere in the state, Central Massachusetts residents are most likely to stay close to home if they grew up here. A 2005 survey conducted by The Research Bureau of Worcester found that about 40 percent of area college graduates planned to stay in Central Massachusetts after graduation, roughly the same share who lived here in the first place.
Yet recent data suggest the state's pool of young talent is far from evaporating — in fact, it is bigger than ever.“It's sort of a positive message because a lot of the discussion before … was why are people leaving, and what's making them move away?” said Heather Brome, a senior policy analyst at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston's New England Public Policy Center. Instead, policy makers “should be thinking broadly about how to expand the skilled labor pool.”Like much of the rest of the country, Massachusetts is still aging as the baby boomer generation retires and fewer young people take their parents' places, Ms. Brome said. Between 1990 and 2007, the population in Massachusetts of young adults — 25- to 39-year-olds — shrunk by 19.4 percent to 1.28 million.