According to the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget, in 2011 there was a net loss of 47,347 people from the state. Michigan’s population has decreased in the last decade, while the entire American population increased. The number of people aged 25-34 living in Michigan has also been in decline since
Now that may sound alarming to some, but I don’t see why people are freaking out. We should acknowledge that things change and people aren’t going to wait for Michigan to have some kind of economic miracle.
Recently, while talking to a stranger about my college experience, the topic moved to migration. Not the migration of the geese that plague Eastern Michigan University’s campus, but the movement of graduates from the state. When asked if I planned to leave Michigan after graduation I had to reply that I didn’t know.
In this person’s opinion, it was a dirty shame so many young people leave Michigan after graduating from college. All that effort put into educating kids and they turn tail and flee at the first opportunity.
Are senior citizens moving to Florida to escape a cold climate or middle-aged workers moving to work in factories also cowards abandoning their heritage?
When I listen to lectures from people bemoaning the flight of youth, I’m reminded of how most of my ancestors fled the garbage-dump conditions of 19th century Europe to make a better life in America.
Were they cowards for not waiting a hundred years for conditions to improve? Do I and all my descendants have to live in Michigan until the extinction of the species? Of course not, but the same logic is behind my mysterious stranger’s complaints about the migratory habits of young people.
Now, there are plenty of nice things in Michigan. We’ve got the beautiful Sleeping Bear Dunes, Mackinac Island, the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Michigan International Speedway. Those are wonderful sites to see, but I can’t live inside of Tahquamenon Falls, can I? I can’t save for retirement by window-shopping in Ann Arbor, although I could probably convince someone to buy me a sandwich.
I’m from Michigan and I don’t want to leave. I don’t want to come back just to visit relatives, drink beer and shoot deer. If you’re a Michigander or from out of state, but like our pleasant peninsulas, stay because you want to. Stay because you found a place in the sun or sniffed out an opportunity to create your own. Do it because it feels right—not because the greybeards made you feel guilty for wanting to emigrate.
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