Sunday, October 2, 2022

Where the Grads Are

Back in September, the Washington Post ran a Department of Data story compiling info on which states retain the graduates of their colleges and universities and which do not. The methodology is a bit unclear (the source is data from LinkedIn, and the timeframe is not specified), but I'll roll with it just for purposes of discussion.

I originally saw it mentioned on Twitter with this graph from the Post:

(It's very necessary to click to enlarge because there's a lot of detail in there.)

Not surprisingly, California and Texas retain a lot of their students, and New York came in fourth. More surprisingly (to me): Florida was number three. I wanted to see where Minnesota placed, because I have the impression that people who come here for college tend to stay. And, sure enough, there's Minnesota in fifth place, keeping 80-some percent of its graduates. 

The "losers" are small-population states with small economies, which is also not surprising: Vermont, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and West Virginia. Kansas and Wyoming were just slightly better.

The biggest surprise to me in all of this is Virginia. Despite the draw of Northern Virginia, with its huge population growth over the past decades, it's sixth from the bottom out of all 51 listed. This makes me suspect the methodology. Or it may just be that the college graduates move back there when they get a bit older.

It's also amusing to see which states the graduates move to, if they leave their state of college-origin. Here are some generalizations from the graph:

  • Wyoming —> Colorado 
  • Nevada and Colorado —> California 
  • Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Arkansas —> Texas (New Mexico too, though they split to several other states in smaller numbers)
  • Kansas —> Missouri (mostly)
  • North Dakota —> Minnesota (South Dakota too, to a lesser extent)
  • Indiana and Iowa —> Illinois
  • West Virginia —> Pennsylvania
  • Maryland and Virginia —> Washington, D.C.
  • Pennsylvania, Delaware, Connecticut and Massachusetts —> New York
  • Maine —> Massachusetts (and New York to a lesser extent)
  • Rhode Island and Vermont —> split almost evenly between New York and Massachusetts (with a number of other states in smaller amounts each)

Wisconsin splits evenly between Minnesota, Illinois, and other.

Overall, the largest numbers of graduates who changed states stayed relatively close to where they started (one or two states away). There are smaller but noticeable percentages of bigger moves: students from California going to New York and vice versa, and from many states to New York or California. Except in a few cases, there were very few major geographic jumps between states noted, except to New York and California.

The full Post story has an additional graph showing that only nine states and D.C. are net gainers of resident college graduates. The results come out in a different order than in the multicolored graph, because it's relative to how few graduates each state produces vs. takes in. So with few graduates but a lot of influx, Washington, D.C., is the big winner with a more than 300% gain, but after that the states with a net gain are Colorado 40%, New York, 39%, Washington 35%, California 25%, Illinois 20%, Georgia 15%, Texas 10%, Minnesota 8%, and Massachusetts 4% (numbers rounded). 

The other 41 states are net losers of graduates.

The biggest losers are the same as in the above chart: Rhode Island –49%, New Hampshire –51%, West Virginia –56%, and Vermont –58%. 

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