Majority of Michigan College Grads Reportedly Leaving State

By: Lauren Zakalik Email
By: Lauren Zakalik Email

The images from MSU's graduations look promising. Nearly 11,000 new graduates clutching their diplomas, ready to take on the world and, likely, a new job.

But if you they're looking for jobs in Michigan-- think again.

"I think there are opportunities elsewhere that are more promising for moving around," says recent MSU grad Chad Olson.

"I kind of want to go out of Michigan in general," echoes fellow grad Erin Merriweather.

These students are part of a growing majority of new graduates who are leaving Michigan as soon as they get their degrees. A Detroit Free Press survey finds only 33 percent of new MSU grads plan to stay in state. The numbers are even bleaker from Ann Arbor: a lonely 26 percent will remain in Michigan.

MSU economist Charles Ballard says this "brain drain" is devastating.

"[The grads] have huge earning potential. You are losing some of your more productive workers. That's a real concern."

Michigan's failing job market is less than attractive to these hopeful grads. The survey shows students more interested in good jobs than helping out the state.

"We would like to retain a larger percentage of our graduates than we do," Ballard says.

The brain drain isn't just being fueled by Michigan's suffering economy. The state's image also is playing a big part.

"Our image is the rustbelt instead of the greenbelt or the sunbelt," Ballard says. "It's going to take a lot of very aggressive marketing of our potential."

And he says our downtrodden image is false.

"The reality is Michigan remains a good place to go to school, go to work, to do business-- a good place to live."

It may just take incentives like loan forgiveness or scholarships for Michigan grads to see that.

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