Brain Drain: Grads leave for better pay

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Brain drain and corporate welfare were issues raised Monday by gubernatorial candidate Abdul El-Sayed to Houghton County Democrats.

HOUGHTON – Gubernatorial candidate Abdul El-Sayed touched on the challenge of a high number of college graduates leaving Michigan while speaking to the Houghton County Democrats on Monday.

El-Sayed warned that by not doing more to retain educated people, Michigan is losing “its best talent.”

He also criticized the state’s failed tax breaks to large corporations in attracting workers with college degrees to the state. While corporations may come to Michigan, he said, there is strong evidence they are not giving much to the state in return for what the state is giving them.

“About half of today’s jobs in Michigan are not high-skill,” Lou Glazer, president and co-founder of Michigan Future, wrote in a March 8 post on its website. “Michigan college attainment drives state per capita income and therefore (workers) are not high paid. That is the fundamental shift that has occurred in our economy over the past several decades. And the prime cause for so many (asset-limited, income-constrained, employed) ALICE households.”

A Jan. 19, 2016, article in Bridge magazine reported: “Young talent continues to flee Michigan.” Census figures show that Michigan had an estimated net migration loss of 0.7 percent of those age 22-to-34 with a bachelor’s degree or higher, wrote Ted Roelofs.

“While that’s less of a percentage loss than previous years,” Roelofs wrote, “it extends a troubling pattern of young, educated people leaving the state in greater numbers than those coming to Michigan.”

Roelofs stated according to Michigan’s Department of Technology, Management & Budget, the state lost more than 430,000 manufacturing jobs from 1999 to 2009, tumbling from nearly 900,000 jobs in 1999 to 463,100 in 2009.

The state lost more than 700,000 jobs of all types during that time. In 2008 and 2009, in the depth of the Great Recession, Michigan lost a net of nearly 200,000 people to other states.

“Despite all evidence to the contrary, Michigan continues to have a tax-cut-driven economic development strategy,” Glazer wrote. “It hasn’t worked in the past; it almost certainly won’t work in the future. The new reality is that this is a human-capital-driven economy. Employers — particularly high wage employers — are locating where talent is concentrated. It’s the asset that matters most to them. That means rather than low taxes, Michigan’s economic success strategy has to be preparing, retaining and attracting talent — particularly those with a four-year degree or more.”

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