April 25, 2014

Experts say small towns can’t hold young college grads

Two experts who have followed the loss of population in rural America says it’s not realistic for small towns to think they’re going to reverse the trend of single, college-educated people under 35 moving away. Sociologist Maria Kefalas  has written a book on the subject. She says small towns should instead be matching community college grads to jobs that are in high demand.

Kefalas says the towns need nurses, dental hygienists, and “folks to work in this new green energy movement.” She says the towns need to really plan to match the high school and community college curriculum with the young people who are not going to college. Kefalas calls young highly educated Iowans the “high flyers” who will inevitably be attracted instead to cities. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss also advises communities to be more realistic about who’s going to stay in small towns and who isn’t.

“Getting single college educated — that’s with a bachelors degree — under 35 individuals to stay in a community, using resources for that is not wise. Those individuals have never stayed in small towns, never stayed in rural areas,” Goss says.

Goss warns that America will never return to the iconic small towns of the 50’s.