Two stories in U.S. 1’s March 7 issue touched on the exodus from New Jersey of the millennial generation — roughly those born between the 1981 and 1996 — and possible steps that could be taken to reverse the trend. In “For Millennial Couple, Home Is Where It’s Walkable,” Diccon Hyatt profiled Brandon McCoy, a 31-year-old who has found his Trenton neighborhood to have what Millennials need, and in “Redeveloping Our Cities: ‘The New Localism’ Approach,” Richard K. Rein examines urbanologist Bruce Katz’s ideas, many of which relate to locating companies to towns where young people will be happy to live and work.

Now the state has focused in on millennials and the younger generation just now finishing high school. The problem: students leave the state for college and never come back. The New Jersey Business & Industry Association recently weighed on pending legislation to research the roots of the “millennial outmigration” problem:

Millennials are leaving New Jersey more frequently than any other generation, and the New Jersey Business & Industry Association (NJBIA) supports legislation to find out why.

The bill, S-518 (Kean, R-21, Cunningham, D-31), was approved June 7 by the Senate.

“We invest on average more than $20,000 per pupil per year for K-12 education. When students leave the state for college and never return to pursue a career here, it results in a negative return on investment for New Jersey taxpayers,” said NJBIA Chief Government Affairs Officer Chrissy Buteas. “That in turn impacts businesses’ ability to find the qualified, skilled workers they need.

“We cannot effectively solve this problem until we ascertain empirical evidence to know what is causing New Jersey students to stay or leave for postsecondary education,” Buteas said. “This bill is a first step in the process.”

Under the bill, high school seniors would be surveyed about their plans after graduation. The Secretary of Higher Education would also review academic and socio-economic characteristics between those who chose in-state institutions and those who go out of state. The bill would also require an analysis of the extent to which the outmigration is impacted by the state’s small size and the desire of college students to experience independent living at a distance from their families.

According to NJBIA’s report on millennial outmigration, 1,050,097 millennials migrated out of New Jersey between 2007 and 2016 while 866,506 millennials migrated into the state for a net outmigration of 183,591. High school seniors and young adults (ages 18-24) accounted for 58 percent of the millennial outmigration during the same time span.

“NJBIA believes further analysis of why students are leaving is critical to addressing millennial outmigration moving forward,” Buteas said. “We, along with stakeholders from academia, business and government, will continue to evaluate and recommend additional measures to address the outmigration.”

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