Young adults leaving Louisiana

Published 7:00 pm Wednesday, December 4, 2019

American Press

Louisiana’s long-standing reputation for losing its best and brightest as soon as they finish college has lent itself to an unfortunate label used by some elected officials — “brain drain.”

Far too often, Texas is the destination for these people who earned their degrees at Louisiana’s universities.

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It’s even harder to stomach newly-released data that shows the problem is growing. More young adults are leaving Louisiana than are moving here.

Data compiled for The Advocate by University of Louisiana at Lafayette economics professor Gary Wagner shows that in 2017, more young people with college degrees moved to Texas than they had in the last decade.

The numbers are discouraging. Nearly 7,500 people left Louisiana for Texas in 2017, with 3,651 moving into the Bayou State — a net migration of -3,822. Compare that to 2016, with 5,243 moving out and 4,719 moving in — a net migration of -524.

It’s not just Texas that is snatching up Louisiana’s young people. Other southeastern states are taking them too.

Wager, who is also the Acadiana Business Economist/Board of Regents Support Fund Endowed Chair in Economics, told The Advocate that people “are the best resource we have.” Some may think Louisiana’s natural resources and oil are its best commodities. But how can the state make progress with young, educated people fleeing in droves?

Texas has major metro areas, like Houston and Dallas, that are growing. It’s easy for a recent college graduate with a slew of credentials to be lured away to jobs there.

Other factors — like Louisiana’s high poverty rate and a struggle to right its education system — aren’t helping entice people to stay.

There needs to be a concerted effort to concentrate dollars on early childhood education and provide a solid foundation for Louisiana’s children. Doing so can hopefully break the major divide that exists between those struggling in poverty and those who are well off.

Louisiana certainly has its charms that make it appealing. However, food, music and festivals can only go so far if someone in his or her 20s is struggling to find quality job opportunities after college.””brain drain graphic