Lansing Leaders Must Give College Graduates More Reasons to Stay in Michigan

Tens of thousands of young people across Michigan will walk proudly across ceremonial stages this spring to receive their hard-earned college diplomas. But in light of our ongoing population struggles, the big question becomes: How many will keep walking and move to other states?

Michigan has huge challenges when it comes to brain drain, where highly trained college graduates pick up and leave in search of better job opportunities. Along with splitting up families, this drain also hurts our economy. It can result in a significant loss of talent, impacting a variety of sectors like healthcare, engineering, and technology.

So why are other states winning over Michigan’s talent? It largely comes down to the absence of public policies that encourage job growth and free-market principles. Florida, for example, offers no state income tax and a growing job market in fields like technology and finance. Texas boasts a business-friendly environment with vast opportunities in tech, energy, and healthcare. These states have gained reputations as hubs for innovation and growth, drawing ambitious grads who want to start their careers in the best place possible.

On the contrary, Michigan continues to struggle with a less rosy economic landscape. For one, our economy is not keeping pace with the national recovery, according to the Michigan Economic Outlook for 2024-25 released by the Research Seminar in Quantitative Economics.

And recent public policies from Governor Gretchen Whitmer continue to put the Great Lakes State at a distinct disadvantage. These misguided policies include repealing our state’s landmark right-to-work law, reinstating the prevailing wage law, and increasing costs on small businesses, making it harder for Michigan-based entrepreneurs to thrive and create jobs.

It’s not too late for Michigan to reverse this trend. Last fall, the West Michigan Policy Forum recommended nine policy initiatives to help reverse Michigan’s population loss and brain drain. The proposals include solutions to make Michigan more attractive to recent college graduates, remove barriers to job growth and resist recommendations to raise people’s taxes.

Our elected leaders have an inherent responsibility to enact policies that encourage economic growth and make the state more appealing for young people to start their careers and families.

Please contact your state representatives and senators and tell them to start enacting policies that give our children and grandchildren more reasons to start their careers in Michigan.