Michigan struggling to attract newcomers

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon
Kevin Breen gets the occasional you-gotta-be-kidding stare when telling people he moved from the Boston area to southeastern Michigan - voluntarily.
"They ask if I had to, and I say no, it was a choice," the 41-year-old said Monday. "We could have gone elsewhere."
Breen arrived in July, becoming a school administrator in Grosse Pointe Woods near Detroit. He took up residence in neighboring Grosse Pointe Park with his wife and

Kevin Breen gets the occasional you-gotta-be-kidding stare when telling people he moved from the Boston area to southeastern Michigan - voluntarily.

"They ask if I had to, and I say no, it was a choice," the 41-year-old said Monday. "We could have gone elsewhere."

Breen arrived in July, becoming a school administrator in Grosse Pointe Woods near Detroit. He took up residence in neighboring Grosse Pointe Park with his wife and two children, ages 9 and 6.

Attracting productive, well-educated families like the Breens from other states is crucial for breathing new life into Michigan's sagging economy. But a U.S. Census Bureau report being released Tuesday suggests it remains an uphill climb.

The data shows that 80.9 percent of the people living in Michigan last year were born there. Only Louisiana (82.2 percent) and New York (82.1 percent) had higher shares of native-born residents.

And the Detroit area's figure of 81.9 percent was highest in the nation among large metropolitan regions, followed by New York City and Chicago.

This Home is Worth $307,949

But you can get it for just $180k! It's open house for great real estate bargains. See how much home can you buy for the money in cities throughout the US!

Top Picks:Bargain Homes for Sale

Foreclosure Search:7-Day Trial to Foreclosure Listings

Looking for More Bargains? Learn about Short Sales

__________________________________________________

Browse Over 2.8 Million Home Listings


See Homes for: $30,000 | $50,000 | $150,000 | $250,000

High proportions of native-born residents are common in the Upper Midwest. Pennsylvania trails Michigan at 79.4 percent, followed by Ohio (77.8), Illinois (77.4), Iowa and Wisconsin (both 75.2).

The figures were from the 2007 American Community Survey, the government's annual survey of about 3 million households nationwide.

An optimist might say such numbers partly reflect home-state satisfaction. After all, Michigan residents are free to move elsewhere if they're not happy.

"I think the fact that so many people have chosen to stay and live and work in Michigan and raise families here is a testimony to the fundamental strength of our state," said Rich Studley, president and CEO of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce.

But fondness for home cooking isn't the likeliest explanation, demographers said, noting the comparatively low proportion of native-born residents in states experiencing boom times. Just 28.5 percent of Nevada's residents are originally from there. Alaska's rate is 41.7 percent, followed by 41.9 in Florida, 42.2 in Arizona and 43.4 in Wyoming.

Many of the low-percentage states are Sun Belt retiree havens. Still, they are drawing plenty of working families as well - sometimes at Michigan's expense.

"We're just not attracting people from outside to any great extent," said Kurt Metzger, research director for the United Way of Southeast Michigan. "We send many more people away than we bring in."

Additional numbers from the census report underscore the point.

Just 1.3 percent of Michigan's residents came from other states during the 2006-07 year, while 2.5 percent of all U.S. residents migrated from one state to another in that period.

Among the highly prized 25-to-34 age group, 2.5 percent of those in Michigan moved from other states in 2006-07 - about 31,100 people. Meanwhile, North Carolina drew 70,400 newcomers in the same age bracket - 5.9 percent of that state's total.

Michigan is losing the battle to attract young newcomers with four-year college degrees and to retain graduates from its own colleges and universities, said Lou Glazer, president of Michigan Future Inc., a nonpartisan research organization in Ann Arbor.

"We're just getting clobbered," he said.

Mike Bahr, 35, left for Chicago after graduating from Michigan State University in the mid-1990s. He knows "a ton" of other Michigan natives who did likewise.

He'd like to return home, but is among those still seeking the right job opportunity.

"I'm not willing to take just anything to get back there," said Bahr, associate publisher for a magazine group. "I want something interesting and creative and compelling."

But the situation isn't hopeless. Reviving the economy obviously would help. Yet some recent arrivals say Michigan already has plenty going for it, a message often lost amid the gloomy headlines.

Even in comfortable Grosse Pointe Park, housing is much less pricey than in comparable suburban Boston neighborhoods, Breen said. The climate is similar to New England's, and the region's bounty of cultural and recreational amenities is a big plus.

"We've been to arts festivals and jazz festivals and car races - all sorts of things," he said.

More affordable living costs also were a selling point for Aric Haley, 32, who moved to Dearborn last year from northern California. He's a software consultant and his wife has enrolled at the University of Michigan at Dearborn.

"It was just insane what the cost of housing was in California," Haley said.

The Detroit area's ethnic and cultural diversity helped offset its reputation for economic problems and crime, he said.

"Hopefully Michigan can get over its identity crisis and feel better about itself," he said.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. Active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.





Read Full Story

Find a New Home

Buy
Rent
Value
Powered by Zillow

From Our Partners