Pennsylvania sees exodus of educated millennials

 A view of Harrisburg and the state capitol from City Island. (Lindsay Lazarski/WHYY)

A view of Harrisburg and the state capitol from City Island. (Lindsay Lazarski/WHYY)

More young residents are leaving Pennsylvania than moving in.

That’s according to a recent report from the Independent Fiscal Office, which notes that the trend doesn’t bode well for the state’s economy.

In the last recorded year — 2015 — Pennsylvania gained about 34,000 college-educated millennials. However, it lost more than 47,000, for a net outflow of nearly 13,000 people between the ages of 20 and 35.

The report says this trend could stem from a number of causes, like college students moving home after graduation. The commonwealth currently has the second highest student debt levels in the country.

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IFO Director Matthew Knittel said no matter the cause, the numbers are a problem.

“The net outflow of young individuals and college graduates would have a negative impact on the economic growth for various reasons,” he said. “One, they tend to be higher-educated, and work in jobs that tend to be a little better than average.”

Knittel added, the trend could make Pennsylvania’s population even more lopsided.

“Pennsylvania, depending on what metric you use, is either the second or the fifth-oldest state, so we do have concerns that the labor force will actually contract over the next decade,” he said. “This out-migration is contributing to that, and of course, that will limit economic growth.”

Knittel said the 2016 numbers bear that out. Instead of the slight population growth the IFO had projected, numbers actually contracted overall.

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