State turns brain drain into brain gain

Census figures show a turnaround in Nebraska’s educated workforce. “Brain drain” has long been a problem for many Midwestern states, including Nebraska. But in 2009, more college-educated people moved to Nebraska than those who left for other states, NET Radio’s Mike Tobias reported.

The good news for the good life state came from both sides, with Nebraska losing fewer of its college-educated natives and attracting a higher number of professionals with college degrees from other states.

Nebraska’s “brain gain” in 2009, according to the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Center for Public Affairs Research, totaled around 1,600 college-educated people. This figure contrasts with 2007 when Nebraska saw a net loss of about 1,600.

Economists credit Nebraska’s low unemployment and its universities for attracting talent to the state. The challenge for Nebraska is to continue that trend after the economy stabilizes and surrounding unemployment rates drop.

The positive trend is good news for the state and for Nebraska Wesleyan University. NWU has ambitious goals for maintaining its traditional regional foothold while expanding its recruiting efforts in Omaha and beyond the state’s borders.

“This is one more factor that helps us keep bright Nebraskans right here,” said David Duzik, NWU’s director of admissions. “And it helps us attract great students from Colorado, Iowa, Kansas City or anywhere else we choose to compete for talent.”

Duzik said, “This is a place where you can get a great education and graduate into an environment where you’ll succeed. That’s attractive.”