Thursday, March 30, 2006

Brain Drain- Sucking Out Louisiana's Brightest

Today I read an interesting article in the Reveille. I'll quote some of the more interesting aspects:

As a result of many students leaving Louisiana, the state is experiencing what many refer to as a “brain drain,” a term used to describe students who receive an education in Louisiana but leave the state in search of better opportunities.

Many students coming out of high school in Louisiana know this also. Its been understood for a while now- I certainly knew the concept of grads leaving the state for jobs back when I started high school. I'm not sure how it will apply to me but I'll talk about that further on...

The notion that Louisiana does not have enough high-paying jobs has become all too real for many students.

Rhett Rentrop, 2002 landscape architecture graduate, said he had trouble finding a job in Louisiana when he graduated.

Rentrop said there is not much work in his field in Louisiana, but he found a lot of opportunities in Texas.

“The economy at the time was better in Texas and still is, which translates to more work,” Rentrop said.

I know a few people who are definitely going to be working in Texas when they graduate.

Jim Richardson, director of the Public Administration Institute and former University economics professor, has been watching the trend of brain drain in Louisiana.

“If you graduate from this state, and you’re not bounded here, there are probably a lot of reasons to go out of state,” Richardson said.

Richardson said Louisiana’s population is not growing as fast as many other states, and the state’s economy reflects the population shortfall.

“The interesting thing is, if you compare Louisiana in terms of population growth from 1990 to 2000, is that our population grew by about 6 percent, but if you look at other states such as Arizona, North Carolina, Texas and Georgia, these states grew by 20 to 40 percent,” Richardson said.

And many of the states whose populations increased dramatically over the past 15 years are in the South.

“The growth has been in the South and Southwest, and there’s not one reason for that,” Richardson said.

If you aren't from Louisiana why would you stay? I love Louisiana but I can certainly see why people aren't moving here. Certainly we have some very nice areas (like where I am from- Mandeville) but for the most part the state ain't exactly stunning when it comes to living quality. A lot of the problems are directly related to the lack of progress created by our government- the leadership in the Gov's Mansion hasn't been spectacular since... I dunno- before I was born?

Richardson said the hurricanes increased the brain-drain effect on the state.

“Katrina probably will contribute to that brain drain because a lot of the professionals in New Orleans had to leave,” Richardson said. “And there’s an enormous opportunity for them elsewhere.”

While Richardson said the hurricane has increased the brain drain, it is still possible to reverse the effects.

The hurricane's made "brain drain" worse? How shocking.

Roderick Hawkins, Gov. Kathleen Blanco’s deputy press secretary, told The Daily Reveille the governor recognizes there is a brain drain in Louisiana and is responding accordingly.

“The governor is trying to make sure there’s a valuable education experience and of course a good economy, which means good paying jobs with benefits that students can go into once they finish their college,” Hawkins said.

Hawkins also said Blanco is working to improve teacher and faculty pay, to ensure that the workforce and business growth “are happening” and to entice more businesses to come here.

But for now students are still looking for jobs outside Louisiana, and until industry grows, they may continue to move away.

Hawkins didn't even answer the question- or really address the problem I should say. Look- I am only a Freshman in college- I don't know how to fix this problem. I do know that having a strong leader in Baton Rouge wouldn't hurt. Theoretecially I would love to stay in Louisiana after I graduate. But realistically if I can't find a job... what can I do? Also I am pretty sure the average LSU student doesn't have as much affection for Louisiana as I do and probably would not be inclined to stay under the current circumstances. People just getting out of college can'opportunitiesass up good oppurtunities- and if they are out of state then so be it. I like to say that I won't move out of Louisiana but if I have to then I have to.


Anonymous nico said...

I think many Southern states suffer from this problem with Atlanta, Nashville, Charlotte, DC being some of the primary draws. I know countless people that have moved to all of those places.

9:37 AM  
Blogger Nick said...

But, Louisiana is the only Southern state to be losing population. To add on to the high school students leaving, our college grads are leaving too. High taxes on our business in Louisiana cause employers to have to pay less than in other states. Personally, I was able to get the best of both worlds, at least for now. After working for a Louisiana oil broker my first year out of college, I went back to the Texas company I did an internship the summer before graduation. What was the result? I netted $20 more for 2005 than 2004. Our state has a serious out-migration problem that plagued us before the hurricanes, and we can thank our dumb politicians for creating an economic climate that no sane business would want to enter.

12:42 PM  
Blogger Nicole said...

I don't know about up in BR, but in NO we had a bunch of billboards advertising for teaching jobs in Texas. They basically said come to Texas, make a shitload more money than you will here. Caused a bit of an uproar.

As for the brain drain, it's an interesting concept. It's definitely not one suffered only by LA. Interestingly, I've never met people so intensely attached to their home. I mean, Texans are absurdly proud of themselves and of Texas, but Louisianans are serious homebodies. You don't go leave. And if you do, you definitely come back. I heard on more than one occasion from people who said they might want to live somehwere else, but they definitely wanted to raise their kids in Louisiana, which might be the most asinine thing I've ever heard.

I mean, yeah it was enjoyable to live there, but I think part of the issue is that people that never leave don't necessarily know that it can be better, so they're ok with the status quo. But those who leave see that it doesn't have to be all backdoor handshakes and shady politicians. You don't have to pay in order to get your kid a decent education. Having lived elsewhere, I would never choose to live there for those reasons.

Plus, what I absolutely could not get over was the extremely insular, nepotistic way of operating. Absolutely everyone knows everyone else. And if you don't, you're screwed. It's all about who you know and who you're related to. I'm not naive, I know that things are often like that, but it's usually within one corporation or one occupation. But my experience in Louisiana was that being an outsider and having no family and no mama who went to school with your auntie meant that I could never get anywhere. To say it was offputting would be putting it mildly.

8:27 PM  
Anonymous nico said...

Nicole, those billboard ads advertising Texas sound like the anti-gambling ads in Alabama.

Those ads are of course all paid for by the Mississippi Gaming Commission...which is the biggest contributor to the anti-gambling lobby in our state. Every state surrounding us either has casinos or lotteries.

We're losing money for our schools by the millions because of aniquated ideas. I love The South, but we can be a bunch of dumbass mofos sometimes.

3:17 AM  
Blogger Nicole said...

Joel, that's eloquent and so true.

4:13 PM  
Blogger Ryan said...

Nicole- I DEFINITELY would want to raise my kids in Louisiana. I mean I love to hate on Mandeville for being boring and suburban but its definitely a great place to raise kids. And when I think about living and raising kids in Louisiana it isn't about it being enjoyable. Its something else... riding the streetcars, the sound of a trumpet on a street corner, the shade of an oak tree, the sound your car makes when it goes in a pothole...

I mean I've never lived anywhere other than Louisiana but I don't have any fear of living somewhere else per se but Louisiana and especially New Orleans has a quality about it that gets in people's blood, gets in people's brains. Tourists experience some of its brightest moments: Saint Charles Avenue during Mardi Gras, the Fairgrounds during Jazz Fest, the Cathedral, etc. There's just something about it...

As for crooked politicians.... well Louisianians have learned to deal with it. The same with private schooling- I mean I've pretty much decided I want my sons to go to the same school I went to if I live here, and no matter where I lived I like the idea of a private school education. Besides where do you think all the networking comes from? I mean before segregation you didn't HAVE to send kids to private school but that's the way its been since. I don't want to sound racist but its certainly no secret that New Orleans schools have worsened since segregation. Whether its a problem that all the kids with money go to [rivate school is another topic in itself but I certainly wouldn't send my kids to Fortier High School- which is ironically where my grandfather went to high school back in the day.

I can understand where you are coming from since you aren't from Louisiana but as someone who is a Louisianian through and through- if it is possible Louisiana is where I want to live. I mean it would be fun to live somewhere else like Chicago or Austin for a while- but Louisiana is home.

7:00 PM  

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