Sunday, October 6, 2019

Bill Crawford: Brain Drain a Gross Problem

Brain drain in Mississippi is gross. That's what Phil Hardwick wrote in the Mississippi Business Journal.

Citing an April report by the U.S. Joint Economic Committee on the topic of brain drain in the United States, Hardwick explained, "Gross brain drain is defined as the share of leavers who are highly educated minus the share of adults who remain in their birth state (“stayers”) who are highly educated."


He went on to point out, "The report showed that in Mississippi in 1970 the excess of highly educated movers over highly educated stayers was 1.24. In 1980, that number increased to 1.87. In 1990, the number had increased to 4.63, and by 2017 had skyrocketed to 16.69. Add to that fact that there was net-outmigration in the state during the past 10 years."

Sounds kinda gross, doesn't it?

Well, it would be really gross if the exodus of smart people from our state was surging in comparison with other states.

Uh, it is.

The report shows Mississippi and Kentucky neck and neck with the highest gross brain drain changes from 1970 to 2017.

Even worse, our brain drain rate in 1970 was among the lowest at 47th but by 2017 it was 14th and rising.

Then there is net brain drain. You see, some states attract smart people from other states to offset the loss of homegrown smart people. The report shows Mississippi does not attract very many out-of-state smart people. As a result, our net brain drain rate soars to 5th place among all states.

That sounds really gross to me too.

So, what fantastic places do our smart people head off to? The report says Texas, Alabama, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Georgia.

Gosh, we can't even keep our smart people from moving off to Louisiana. How gross is that?

Hardwick goes on to cite actions other states are taking to combat brain drain, mentioning programs in Michigan, Maryland, Kansas, Nebraska, Minnesota, Vermont, Oklahoma, and Maine.

What about Mississippi?

Well, we're doing the usual Mississippi thing…talk a lot but do little.

Oh, our universities attract smart people. A number of our top industries attract smart people. But, as the report shows, that's not enough to keep many of our smart people here.

One of the top places where you find lots of smart people is schools. Yep, lots of smart people like to teach. But the smart ones don't like to teach for peanuts, so they head off to states that pay more. (Could that have anything to do with our growing teacher shortages?)

Another place where you find lots of smart people is in health care. Got to be smart to pass and get licensed. Too bad health care is not a priority for our state government. (Could that have anything to do with our growing nurse shortages?)

Interesting that one of our gubernatorial candidates wants to fund schools and health care better while the other does not.

Wonder if all our brain drain over the past decades gives the latter an advantage over the former?


That would be sort of a gross twist to the "grow your own" paradigm wouldn't it?
(See the report Phil cited at

"Mere talk leads only to poverty" – Proverbs 14:23.

Crawford is a syndicated columnist from Meridian


Anonymous said...

Just very little corporate headquarters based in Mississippi. If you aren’t a doctor, lawyer, banker, accountant or old money you are basically out of luck. If you major in business and want to move up a corporate ladder you will more than likely have to move to a major market out of state.

Anonymous said...

So, what exactly does it mean to be smart in Mississippi? My wife and I moved to Mississippi when she had a career opportunity, and I tried my hand at state government in some idealistic attempt to "make a difference." I thought I was pretty sharp (Princeton undergrad, Wharton MBA), but over time found out that yankees were not welcome and were simply not considered for advancement.

When I proposed a program that would enhance my agency's efficiency, accountability and transparency; I was summarily shut down and I found myself fixing others' work (usually for more senior staff). I became the "go to" for the agency director when budget time rolled round, but when it came for promotions, they always seemed to select someone who was less educated and who had less demonstrated impact for the agency. I was informally told that I would never be promoted into a more senior role because I didn't really know anybody "important" in the state, and that I was too valuable doing others' work.

The final straw was when I was passed over for a promotion and the boss installed a friend of his to "boost his PERS." This was a person who was under suspicion/investigation for a number of personnel violations as well as some issues that could rise to criminal misappropriation of government grants.

My wife and I moved about two years ago when she was recruited by a major consulting firm, and I joined a startup on the East Coast; we have maintained contact with some of the great folks we met in Mississippi (people we will consider lifelong friends) and our time in the state propelled my wife's career to the next level; but you all will never shake the stigma of being number 50 in everything if you don't change your collective attitude.

Anonymous said...

So, what is the current Republican Brain Trust doing about it?

“There they go again. Liberals at an online Democratic propaganda machine are misleading Mississippians about population facts,” Bryant wrote on May 3, again referencing a Mississippi Today article. “Mississippi is at the national average in both Millenials (sic) as a percentage of total population and percentage of college graduates who stay in state.”

But wait, the MS house disagreed and does believe this is a problem. In a bipartisan bill, HB1550, they unanimously voted to provide tax incentives to recent college graduates who stay in MS.

So, what happened when it reached Tate in the senate? He called it fake news and killed the bill.

Maybe, it isn’t the liberal media, but it’s Tate and Phil who realize that their hegemony would be in jeopardy if educated young people stayed in State and tried to change things.


A Leaver

Anonymous said...

My out-of-state employer offered me a $20,000 a year raise to relocate here to Mississippi. In hindsight I should've asked for more. You people are willfully ignorant and completely insufferable. You all deserve your lot in life. I am transferring back as soon as possible.

Anonymous said...

Interesting that Phil writes this as he and his wife have moved out of state.

Anonymous said...

We don't need no liberal fact sheets. We don't need no liberal egg heads. We don't need no new taxes to "enhance" our educational system. We got COTTON.
And COTTON is King!

Anonymous said...

The comments above are common experiences for those who weren't born here.
While there are some extremely bright and well educated people who were born here and stayed. There commonality seems to be having either been educated elsewhere at some point or coming from a family that required them learn what they weren't taught in school.
Our children fall into both categories as we were appalled that books and courses that were required of us in high school weren't required here. So, we made sure they were better prepared for college and insisted they go out of state to be educated. We insisted , not only because we knew they'd be offered more choices, but because we wanted them to get to know people from other places. We wanted them to know that different sometimes means a better way of approaching life. We wanted them to know that even the mainstream churches are not the same everywhere in what they choose to preach or how they operate within their communities.

We wanted them to have choices and to gain even more knowledge. You see, we think knowledge is not dangerous but empowering and helps one understand the world around them.

It was easier to raise children here as we and they, didn't have to face the dangers common in more urban states. Drugs were here but not as easily accessed. Child predators existed but not in as great a numbers and a child abduction was and still is a rarity.

But, even at private schools, giving our children as good an education as we received for free was not possible. There weren't enough hours in a day. But, they have acquired it and thank goodness, know that learning doesn't stop when you graduate.

The most appalling thing I've witnessed were the parents of children who were accepted and offered scholarships to the top universities in the country who made it clear to those children that they would give them no parental support unless they went to Ole Miss or State. They wouldn't get money to come home, they would be dropped from family medical insurance as well and not considered in the will. And, this was not a matter of financial ability.

Anonymous said...

But Doofus 101 and 102, Tate Reeves and Philbilly claim our brain drain is a hoax....Phucking idiots.

Anonymous said...

I was born in MS, educated in MS and worked twenty years in MS in a professional position. After numerous lucrative offers through the years I finally decided to leave MS six months ago. I wake up every morning wondering why I didn’t make the move ten years earlier. I still love MS but I’ll never work in the state again.

The leadership of the MS spends all its energy pandering instead of leading. The leadership is more interested in clinging to confederate relics, hunting legislation, and passing anti abortion, anti gay and prayer bills that won’t hold up in court than dealing with the real problems of education, health care and infrastructure.

MS has survived the past twenty years on the tobacco, Katrina aid and BP oil spill money windfalls. There has been no real growth in the state. The leadership lined their pockets and gave away everything to the beef plant, kior, southern company, and a host of other green energy failures.

The leadership of MS is flailing to lead. So until that changes expect professionals to continue to leave.

Anonymous said...

I live in NE Jackson and was raised in Maryland. I graduated from Georgetown and med school at university of Miami. I've lived here for 12 years and I enjoy the slower pace of life. However my kids are in private school and in ne Jackson all our neighbors are college educated. I explain to my kids that Mississippi is a poor state. They aren't exposed to it often but I see the difference between the east coast and southeast due to my being exposed to different cultures of America. Mississippi is vastly different from most places demographically.

Anonymous said...

@9:33 good for you. I was offered a $50k raise to move to Chicago and work at corporate headquarters. I elected to stay in Mississippi and enjoy my life here. To each their own.

Anonymous said...

I LOVE Mississippi. We moved here 37 years ago with a new baby. Had two more on the theory that simple decent family values survive here. We have prospered in Mississippi precisely because the place is run by inbred imbeciles. Jim Hood, for example. Or Tate Reeves. Or Phil Bryant.

True, I am not leadership material locally. I am not "from here." I knew it but learned it a second time the hard way. I can live with my place in life. We make compromises.

My kids? Not so much. All 3 have taken their seven post-secondary degrees and two professional careers elsewhere. We celebrate holidays where the most grandbabies are. Not perfect but I do not have enough money to bribe them to come home.

The last time I noticed there's not a fence around the state. If you don't like it here leave.

Anon-E-Mouse said...

Want to entice people to move to MS? Eliminate the state income tax.

Anonymous said...

There is not a lack of hope for the future! Recent elections make that very clear. Doubling down on bad actions.
Poor services, corruption, mediocre to low pay, high social program dependency, correctional facilities are considered good businesses, dirty wally world type shopping, this is what most in MS desire, our comfort zone, a slice of heaven.
When a politician stands for Mississippi conservatives values, mostly unwed mothers, SNAP, WIC, deadbeat Fathers, Illegal workers, prison as a career path for black males, and most of all pork from the Federal budget I laugh inside.
I still volunteer to stay.

Anonymous said...

It is a self fulfilling prophecy! Politicians (Republicans)want to get re-elected so they want to keep the voting demographics the same. If you noticed most of Tater Tots voters came from rural counties. The Brain drain crowd would surely be more progressive and may vote the good ole boys out of office if for no other reason than to try new ideas to get us off the bottom. Most of the good ole boys are happy with the status que. “Why change” is the battle cry out of Jackson!! Meanwhile the population shrinks but who gives a flip in rural areas as long as the good ole boys pretend to have Christian values.

Anonymous said...

10:09 AM Where did Phil move to? San Francisco?

Attention Young People. Get out as fast as you can.

Anonymous said...

Most of these statistics and problems would be addressed with a vibrant, growing metropolitan area in Mississippi. Fix Jackson = Fix Mississippi.

Anonymous said...

I moved to the land of milk and honey and LSU wins...

Anonymous said...

Here's a real factor that no one has mentioned. During the past few decades locally owned stores are being replaced by Amazon, Walmart, etc. When I was growing up several folks in the community lived a very nice life life and made a living owning a store. Clothing, hardware, pharmacy, insurance, jewelry, restaurants etc. We had great schools in my town. Almost no crime. Many kids walked to school. Twenty minutes away was a beautiful TVA lake with boating, fishing. They took business trips to Dallas and New York. Apparently many of them made a very nice living without a PhD from Harvard. And they hired local contractors for construction. Used local attorneys, insurance agents, banks, etc. Today's' sales are more often from Amazon, Walmart, Apple, McDonalds, etc. They don't have headquarters in Mississippi and probably never will. Is it possible? Yes, I think so. We won't have an Apple or Microsoft. But Arkansas has Walmart and Memphis has Fedex, so it's possible. But my main point is the progression to fewer sales by locally owned businesses hurts a state like Mississippi disproportionately.

Anonymous said...

The problem is not that people are leaving. But rather that no smart people are moving here. And, why would they with leadership like Phil and Tate that provide less than a favorable view of our state. (i’m being kind because it is Sunday)

Anonymous said...

Remember that both Baptist Hospital and St. Dominic's are owned by out-of-state companies.

Well, at least we still have Adams Egg Farms of Edwards as one of our biggest employers.

And the federal military bases (thanks Big Jim, the friend of Joe Biden!)

Anonymous said...

I would say no one is moving here because we have not had effective leadership in the past 20 years. Look at it this way our real options for governor are Hood and Tate!!! That should say all you need to know. It's not because of Republican or Democrat. The top 5 fastest growing states are all Republican led and the top 5 shrinking states are all democrat. Certainly hope you not trying to make the argument that it's due to Republicans... if you are then Tennessee Texas Florida Georgia and South Carolina would all not be experiencing the massive growth explosion.

Anonymous said...

We had great schools in my town.

What town? Name it?

Anonymous said...

55 year old life-long Mississippian here. 4-year B.S. degree and MBA 3.67 gpa from major in- state university. Make $65,000 a year. Life got f&$^D when management changed in an 18 year career with one organization. you just think you re in control of your career- ha. piss ass politicians former college football busts and the like get put in choice positions regardless. In mississippi its never been what you know but who you know and your golf handicap. it will never change. my retirement plan is working until i die.

Anonymous said...

Around 1977 and during Cliff Finch's administration, Mississippi had a program where they directly contacted those who graduated from Mississippi universities and living in other states to help them move back to Mississippi.

If you were interested, you submitted your resume to a certain state department and the State acted as an employment agency to help find a job for you in an industry/profession that matched your skills.

I was working in Louisiana and participated in the program after being contacted. I received a 25% raise and better benefits with a Mississippi employer and moved back to Mississippi.

If this is not a good use of the "Rainy Day" fund, I can't imagine what would be. Of course Tate won't do this because it would look like he agrees with a program initiated by a former governor who was a Democrat, would appear too progressive/liberal, and damage his voter base. Hood should champion this and show that Tate has not done anything to stop the "brain drain".

Adapt or die said...

7:37, you ARE in control of your career, but at certain times there will be discomfort as you adapt to new circumstances. I'm only 51 and I'm on my third career...I saw a gap in a certain market, created something new, articulated the value proposition, became the best at delivering it, and then sold the idea. At 55, If you're still clinging to your GPA at a "major in-state university", and not selling your experience or capacity to innovate, you are missing the mark. The days of a 20-year career followed by a cake, gold watch and pension are long gone...embrace the chaos and create something for yourself!

Bitterness and comfort are the enemies of progress.

Anonymous said...

6:10 - Georgia, to be close to kids and grandkids.

Anonymous said...

I have told my kids to leave MS in a hurry, and one is headed to Dallas the moment she graduates. I have a cousin who's daughter is going to the DMV area when she graduates with a job already waiting. I told them, you can always come home to visit or even retire, but to get what you are worth, you will have to leave this state.

The struggle is real here. Hard work and meaningful contributions hardly count for anything around here, if you do not know the right people or you are not the "right kind" of person. It does not seem to matter how qualified you are either. And the sad thing is that it permeates all most every aspect of life in this state.

Anonymous said...

Even Glenn Boyce admitted 2 of his 3 children had to move out of state to find a job.

Only part-time jobs are plentiful in Mississippi.

Anonymous said...

9:30 - according to "The Squad," those part time jobs are what's keeping the unemployment rate so low...or something.

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In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

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If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

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