Research shows college-educated workers leave Nebraska for jobs and pay


LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – Over the past decade, Nebraska has suffered from a brain drain, according to the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

Ultimately, this means people with at least a bachelor’s degree leave Nebraska for other states every year.

On average, Nebraska has lost about 2,000 people with bachelor’s degrees or higher each year since 2010.

And in 2020, an outlier year, we saw over 4,000 people leave the state.

“It’s something we need to consider, I think it’s something we need to monitor and track overtime. But it’s just one of many metrics that help us think about the state of our economy,” said Josie Schafer, director of the Center for Public Affairs Research at the UN.

There are many reasons someone might leave the state, but according to Schafer’s research, the consistent driving factor seems to be job opportunities and salary.

“We know that here in Nebraska we have more people working in jobs below the median income of $40,000 compared to the median income of $40,000,” Schafer said. “And we know we have a very small workforce, everyone here has a job, there’s not a lot of job change and there’s not a lot of movement or growth in businesses. And so to get those job opportunities and a higher salary, you may have to go out of state.

But there are many other reasons why someone with a bachelor’s degree might leave, such as family, cost of living, and hobbies. But Nebraska politics could also play a role.

“I think the political climate right now is certainly tense, I think people are really aware,” Schafer said. “I think here in Nebraska we’re extremely engaged in these conversations about values ​​and political culture and climate, and so I think that will absolutely impact the decision to move in or out.”

For this reason, collaborations like the Lincoln Partnership for Economic Development have programs to entice people to stay.

A program called “MyTern” was launched in 2017. It connects trainees to events and networking opportunities across the capital.

The program is designed to introduce life in Lincoln and give young adults a life outside of the office.

“We need to support opportunities for professional development and growth and make sure people feel they have the ability to work in their lifetime right here in Nebraska,” Schafer said.


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