Monday, March 23, 2009

Worse Than Rhode Island?

Since standards for measuring brain drain don't exist, I'm often left wondering if bold claims of excessive out-migration are true:

The state and municipalities have taken multiple development initiatives. Yet Connecticut’s economy has failed to create more jobs in 20 years. Worse, high-wage, high-skill jobs are disappearing; low-wage, low skill jobs growing. And, Connecticut has seen no increase to the number of its business establishments — the poorest performance in the nation. The result is that Connecticut has the largest out-migration of young professionals in the nation.

Just a few weeks ago, I read that Rhode Island looks at Connecticut with envy. This report indicates that Connecticut does well in attracting the highly-skilled and educated. Given the explanation of the out-migration of young professionals, that's a remarkable feat. Twentysomethings moving to New York City is a crisis?

Young professionals testing the waters in a world-class city is a good thing. Graduates streaming to global talent centers is a testament to the success of Connecticut's education. I smell a boondoggle:

The state invested billions in Connecticut’s public educational system — significantly increasing the share of our best high school graduates staying in Connecticut for college.

Ah, the good ole days when ample spending kept Connecticut brains at home. The suggested relationship is absurd and indicative of how policymakers use brain drain hysteria to justify spending initiatives. That's not to say that the idea the director of the Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis at the University of Connecticut is promoting is a bad one. Just that his analysis doesn't make much sense.

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