Leaving Minnesota? Exporting the best and brightest

Would you be concerned if 67,000-plus of Minnesota’s best and brightest graduated from high school and left the state? I think I am.

That’s the estimate by the Minnesota Private College Council of students who graduated from high school and enrolled in an out-of-state college from 2003 to 2008.

The council’s newest research, made available today, builds on the group’s ongoing concerns that Minnesota is a net exporter of college talent and that will hurt the state’s economy long-term. Yes, students from outside the state come here. But on average, Minnesota’s been a net exporter of more than 5,000 students a year the past six years.

The map below, produced by the council, shows the net migration. Most of it’s concentrated in neighboring states.


It’d be easy to look at the data and conclude there’s no issue at all. Lots of people come to Minnesota, the quality of life and the workforce is high. And of course, the Minnesota Private College Council would want kids to stay in the state.

So what’s the worry? As Minnesota’s workforce population ages and shrinks and high school and college graduates decrease, what happens when large numbers of high school graduates go to college elsewhere — and possibly not return to the state? Who will do the economy building — and tax paying — to sustain Minnesota?

We don’t really know the answer but we need to. In Ohio, they’re wondering why home grown talent is fleeing the state.

As I’ve noted in a prior post, the export data require a deeper look. If a Woodbury High kid graduates and goes to University of Wisconsin River Falls, he’s gone out of state. But it doesn’t necessarily mean he won’t stay in Minnesota and contribute to the economy.

Still, people like state demographer Tom Gillaspy are clearly worried about the state economy given the aging workforce. If those students leave Minnesota after high school and don’t come back, who’ll keep the economy rolling?

Click here to see our prior posts on Leaving Minnesota?

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