Minnesota is currently facing a population loss problem labeled a “youth exodus.” The Star Tribune reported that yearly, the average number of people ages 25 to 34 moving into the state – a measly 1,549 – is doing little to combat the huge loss of 18- to 24-year-olds, which is roughly 9,300. Most of those leaving are recent college graduates pursuing jobs or other post-graduate endeavors in various parts of the country. While many have found specific opportunities that motivated them to leave, a large contributing factor is a general idea that Minnesota lacks opportunities for young people. This attitude drives many away, and is leaving us at a loss for young, competent workers.
The same Star Tribune article suggested that by 2020, Minnesota will have a shortage of more than 100,000 workers, an unheard-of deficit since World War II. Why exactly are so many young people deciding to leave? As many have suggested, it all comes down to image. Minnesota lags behind in this regard, apparently lacking a certain appeal despite a wealth of opportunities. Many have lauded the Twin Cities as a pair of modern metropolises, marked by great opportunity and potential for success. Somehow, this is lost on the modern generation, and many opt to leave for what seems more like a traditionally successful city or region.
It is difficult to pin down any particular attitudes that the public shares, but certain notions certainly seem clear. Among these is the idea that Minnesota, and much of the Midwest, is a place to settle down, not a place for real opportunity. Many recent college graduates crave success and upward mobility, so they go somewhere that appears exciting and full of opportunity. What generally happens is that these young people, searching for immediate success, wind up settling down wherever they go and seldom return to Minnesota as they had planned. The Midwest doesn’t feel exciting, regardless of how much is actually going on.
To garner a good, reliable workforce, it is crucial to draw in the workers when they are young. This is why it is so important to keep young people grounded in successful Midwest regions. To really motivate people to stay, the greater Minneapolis/St. Paul area has assembled a “talent task force.” This group of up-and-coming professionals and CEOs is exploring several plans to incentivize college graduates to work in the state. A large part of this includes emphasizing the nightlife, food, entertainment and the outdoors. This is meant to demonstrate that Minnesota is valuable beyond jobs, making it a place where young people could see themselves living.
This idea of young life and booming opportunity is what really drives youth representation, and what Minnesota certainly doesn’t lack in reality, it may lack in advertisement. The Twin Cities boast a wide variety of things targeted specifically to the young adult crowd. With its specialized bars and restaurants, an exciting nightlife and Minneapolis’ reputation as the top city for biking in the United States, Minnesota certainly does not lack a place for the young to work and live. It seems that, with publicity, Minnesota has the opportunity to become very successful in terms of a large workforce.
There is a hole in our labor that needs to be filled, and it seems likely that it will soon become not only a place for Minnesotans to stay, but the promised land of some other state’s exodus.
Conlan Campbell ’18 firstname.lastname@example.org is from Burnsville, Minn. His major is undecided.
Graphic Credit: ERIN KNADLER/MANITOU MESSENGER