When it comes to emigrating from a state, anybody can find reasons to gripe about where they're from or why they perceive the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. New data from one website looked at where many people are leaving, and the data is particularly concerning for Iowa.

The study was published by the website Hire a Helper, with data collected from the U.S. Census Bureau's Current Population Survey and its Annual Social and Economic Supplements. The study itself examined what states college-educated Americans are leaving en masse, using these metrics:

  • number of people with a college degree moving into the state or city, to
  • the number of people with a college degree moving out of the state or city,
  • expressed as a percentage (%)

Low and behold, Iowa was found to be the state with the ninth highest "brain drain" in the country. A whopping 46% of college-educated residents have left the state in the past year, which means more college-educated residents moved out of Iowa than moved in.

Obviously, Hire a Helper is looking at data as opposed to reasoning. We can only speculate as to why that is. My assumption, as a college-educated individual who moved to Iowa for my line of work (radio), I would say it's the lack of industry. The subjective opinion of Iowa, by people who are not from here, tend to see it as a state comprised of rolling farmlands, corn, cows, and not much else. There are more conventionally attractive states with more bustling cities than the Hawkeye State. That's just a fact.

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Here are some other key findings from Hire a Helper's study:

  • College-educated Americans were more likely to move (9%) than those without a college degree (7%), according to 2023 Census Bureau data
  • Americans with a college degree were 73% more likely to cite “a new job” as their reason for moving last year
  • Two of the top three destination states for Americans with college degrees — Washington (+169%) and Nevada (+111%) — don’t have state income taxes
  • New York state (-56%) had a higher net “brain drain” than Alabama (-45%)
  • Four of the top six metros college-educated Americans were most likely to leave are in California
Photo Credit: Andy Dean + Canva
Photo Credit: Andy Dean + Canva

The only states to experience a more significant loss of college-educated individuals than Iowa were Alaska, Arkansas, New York, Missouri, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Mississippi, and South Dakota. South Dakota saw a jaw-dropping 72% of college-educated individuals leave the state in the last year.

Where are people moving to? The states with the highest influx of college-educated residents include Washington (169%), South Carolina (137%), Nevada (111%), Wisconsin (110%), and Michigan (75%).

Dig deeper into Hire a Helper's study on their website. Also learn how much money you need to retire in Iowa.

What Non-Iowans Think of Iowa

Iowa is the capital of the Midwest! Ok, that's unofficial, but it's my stance. Here's what NON Iowans think of us.

Gallery Credit: Johnny Marks

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