April 2017

May 01, 2017 | Revenue & Economic Update

The U.S. Census Bureau releases the American Community Survey (ACS) every year, which includes annual migration data between various states. These data can be narrowed down to show the migration of individuals aged 20-35 (millennials) moving to or from Pennsylvania, who obtained an associate’s or higher degree. The graph below displays the top 10 states in 2015 that those with college degrees moved to (outflow) along with graduates who moved from those states (inflow) for Pennsylvania. Overall, there was a net outflow of 12,981 graduates in 2015.

The data reveal that over 47,000 graduates, who were living in Pennsylvania as of 2014, migrated to another state in 2015. Of those individuals, 9% have an associate’s degree, 58% have a bachelor’s degree, 26% have a master’s or doctoral degree and all other professional degrees comprise the remaining 7%.Studies show that those who obtain a higher education are more likely to move to urban areas, southern or coastal states, whereas those with a high school diploma are more likely to remain close to home. The graph confirms this trend, as the top five states where PA graduates migrated (California, New York, North Carolina, New Jersey and Maryland) contain large urban areas or are situated on a coast.

The outflow could also be attributable to graduates moving back home after college. The U.S. Census Bureau reported last week that one-third of people aged 18-34 live at home. Pennsylvania ranks 2nd highest in the nation for student debt. For PA graduates with student debt, the average debt level is $34,798. The outflow of individuals leaving Pennsylvania includes those moving home after graduation to save money. Without rent or mortgage payments, more income can be used to pay down student loans.

Despite an outflow to other states, there were over 34,000 graduates who moved to Pennsylvania in 2015. New York and New Jersey were the only two states from which Pennsylvania recorded a net inflow. Relative to Pennsylvania, these states both generally have higher tax rates and a less affordable housing market. Despite the tendency for individuals with a higher education to move to urban or coastal areas, this inflow could reflect a new trend of graduates in search of a lower cost of living, which can be found in Pennsylvania.

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