Thursday, February 09, 2012

The Michigan Exodus Myth

Everyone is leaving Michigan! We must plug the brain drain! Please, recent graduates, stay! What a bunch of nonsense:

Contrary to common belief, Michigan’s overall rate of migration to other states has consistently been lower than the corresponding national rate. Michigan had lower rates of domestic out‐migration than the nation as a whole from 2009 to 2010 for all age groups below age 60.

Michigan’s overall rate of domestic outmigration for 2009-10 was actually the 5th lowest (i.e. 5th best) in the nation, surpassed only by California, Ohio, Texas, and Pennsylvania. Michigan also had the 5th lowest rate of out‐migration for 2006-07, but it dropped to 6th lowest for 2007-08 and 8th lowest for 2008-09.

Michigan’s recent losses of population share have primarily been caused by low rates of inmigration from other states rather than high rates of out‐migration.

For the outmigration obsessed in Ohio, the emphasis added is for you. Remember that the next time Governor John Kasich tries to sell you a boondoggle designed to keep graduates from leaving. He's trying to fix a problem that doesn't exist.

As for Michigan, we've known for some time that anemic inmigration is the issue. But the myth persists because politicians see the value in stoking the brain drain fires. Rick Snyder:

Snyder isn't the first governor hoping to reverse Michigan's so-called "brain drain" -- remember "cool cities?" -- but as the head of a former tech company, he's hoping to engage young people online and keep them from becoming "just another yuppie in Chicago."

Snyder should be making his pitch to those faceless yuppies in Chicago, not engineers graduating from the University of Michigan. Wherever you hear the bang of the brain drain drum, bad policy is sure to follow. The party at the top changes, but the song remains the same. Everyone is leaving the Rust Belt. Michigan is dying.

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