One of the questions I’m now asked most frequently is “how is Michigan doing compared to other states in retaining and attracting recent college graduates?” Good question and encouraging that it is being asked more frequently. Folks seem to be understanding that where recent college graduates choose to live after college matters to Michigan’s future economic success.
To answer the question we gathered data from the American Community Survey from the Census Bureau on where 25-34 year olds with a bachelors degree or more lived in 2011 (latest available) and 2006. We collected the data for each state, metropolitan areas with a population of one million or more and their central city(s). Here is what we found:
- Michigan ranks 13th in the number of 25-34 year olds with a bachelors degree or more (for the rest of the post we refer to this cohort as young professionals) compared to 9th for total population. The state’s share of the nation’s young professionals is 2.5% compared to 3.1% of the total population.
- Michigan ranks 32nd in the proportion of young professionals with a four year degree or more. Compared to 34th for adults 25 and older with a four year degree or more.
- Most worrisome, Michigan is one of only four states to have fewer young professionals in 2011 than 2006. Declining from 346,000 to 333,000. By far the largest numerical decline. 25-34 year olds with a bachelors or more grew nationally by 13.9% from 2006-11. In Michigan the decline was 3.6%.
Nationally young professionals are concentrating in big metropolitan areas anchored by a vibrant central city (in a few metros more than one). Forty two percent of young professionals live in the 10 regions with the largest concentrations of young professionals. And in those top ten regions 35% live in their central cities.
Michigan’s low ranking is primarily caused by neither of its big metros or their central city being a talent magnet. The nine county Detroit CSA ranks, out of 54, 15th in the number of young professionals with a four year degree or more compared to 12th for total population. It is 30th in the proportion of 25-34 year olds with four year degree. The City of Detroit has 11,000 young professional residents. (Chicago by comparison has 250,000.)
The seven county Grand Rapids CSA ranks, out of 54, 48th in the number of young professionals with a four year degree or more compared to 43rd for total population. It is 34th in the proportion of 25-34 year olds with four year degree. The City of Grand Rapids also has 11,000 young professional residents.