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I'm outta here, but I'll be back

Wisconsin State Roundup

Published November 1, 2007  |  November 2007 issue

Most states, particularly in the Midwest, fret tremendously over the loss of young college graduates to other places—the so-called brain drain. In a recent working paper, researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that the state has indeed seen persistent net losses in college graduates ages 22 to 29, with significant leakage to Chicago and the Twin Cities, and a net migratory loss among all college graduates.

But the silver lining is that many college graduates end up returning: The Badger State is a net gainer among people in their 30s—an age when people have started families and are looking for a place to grow deeper roots. The gains in this age category also increased over time.

The study also looked at "big city flows" among Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota and found that migration to Chicago and the Twin Cities is substantially larger than migration to Milwaukee from Illinois or Minnesota. While that's not good news for Milwaukee, the authors suggested that regions of Wisconsin outside Milwaukee have positive net in-migration.

Ronald A. Wirtz

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