Leaving Minnesota?

I’m conditioned to believe everyone wants to come to Minnesota and that even in a lousy economy the economic opportunities are better here. Maybe that perception’s wrong.

I’m wondering after looking at some recent anecdotal evidence together with some expert data. Maybe we are not the economic draw we thought.

First, here’s Allison Troyer. A source in MPR’s Public Insight Network formerly of Minnesota, she moved recently after finding work in California — supposedly an economic basket case — that she couldn’t find here. Troyer, in her early 20s, writes:

I actually started looking outside of Minnesota for employment and somehow managed to find a job in Orange County, California. Who would have thought that after months of searching in MN, I’d find a job in one of the hardest hit states of this recession? I’m a paralegal specialist with the IRS.

I suppose you have to really look outside your comfort zone. I tried to find a job in MN for about 6 months and just gave up and started looking outside the state.

Yes, it’s one person.

But a couple weeks ago a survey by moving giant Mayflower fingered Minnesota as the state with the largest one-year jump in the percentage of people moving out. Of 1,100 shipments Mayflower handled in Minnesota from January to August, 56 percent were headed out of state versus 48 percent in 2008. Inbound made up the majority of Mayflower shipments in the three prior years.

Yes, it’s only based on Mayflower’s experience.

But look at some deeper work published earlier this year by the Pew Research Center. Minnesota is a “high sticky, low magnet” state, meaning people born here tend to stay but Minnesota (and Wisconsin) are low when it comes to attracting people from elsewhere.

Check out the Pew state maps and you’ll see Minnesota had a net loss of 29,000 people between 2005 and 2007. Of the 655,000 who moved in or out in that time, 52 percent moved out.

There’s no doubt Minnesota ranks high in tons of quality of life indicators. And it’s always felt like growth mode here. But maybe the recession is exposing a long-term weakness.

After jumping 15 percent this decade, the State Demographic Center projects only an 8.7 percent increase in Minnesota’s labor force over the coming 25 years.

We’re heading for a stretch where that labor force will age significantly. Meanwhile, the number of Minnesota high school graduates is forecast to slide through 2015 after peaking this year.

If Minnesota becomes a continual net loser of people and can’t depend on its high schools to produce enough new workers to offset the aging labor force, that’s a serious problem that will dog Minnesota long after the recovery begins.

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Got a different perspective to share or think I’m out of line? Drop me a line or post below. Also, check out the map to read what people in our Network have told us about the job climate around them. Then share your story.

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