Prosperous states are open and welcoming to talent of all types


Michigan Future’s basic premise is that the key to prosperity in today’s knowledge-based economy is preparing, attracting and retaining talent. The best measure of that in today’s world is college attainment.

An important key to talent is being open and welcoming to all talent from all sources and taking major steps to increase the education attainment of populations in a state that are not at a high level.

Here are some simplified indicators of a state’s being welcoming to talent, with an emphasis on diversity. The first column ranks the states by private non-natural resources income (offsetting the influence of oil wealth and government income, mostly attributable to the federal government).

States ranked by private non-natural resources income

Income

Rank in college attainment

Ban on same sex marriage

Rank in % foreign born population

1. Massachusetts 

1

No

8

2. Connecticut

4

No

11

3. New York

8

No

2

4. New Jersey

5

No

3

5. Minnesota

10

No

24

6. New Hampshire

9

No

32

7. Illinois

12

No

9

8. Delaware

18

No

22

9. Colorado

2

No

18

10. California  

14

No

1

 
36. Michigan

36

Yes

28

 
41. Alabama 

44

Yes

42

42. Oklahoma

42

Yes

31

43. Kentucky

47

Yes

45

44. South Carolina

37

Yes

33

45. Montana

22

Yes

49

46. Arkansas

49

Yes

37

47. Idaho

39

Yes

30

48. New Mexico

31

No

17

49. West Virginia

50

No

50

50. Mississippi 

49

Yes

48

As you can see, states that are prosperous – those in the top 10 of private sector non-natural resources income – are sending a signal that they are open for gay couples and foreign born citizens to come and bring their talents to improve the economy.  These are generally states that embrace diversity.

Conversely, the states that are poor are generally saying they do not want the contributions of gay citizens or immigrants.

The bottom line: Talent goes where it is welcomed. It avoids areas where politicians send the signal a state or community is not interested in the value some talented groups can bring. As a state in the bottom third of college attainment, Michigan can ill afford to tell supporters of same sex marriage or immigrants they are not welcome in our state.

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