Vote 4 NM: Brain Drain appears to be costing the state | KOB 4

Vote 4 NM: Brain Drain appears to be costing the state

Steve Soliz
October 09, 2018 10:35 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.— New Mexico is experiencing what’s known as Brain Drain and it’s jeopardizing the state’s economic future.


Brain Drain is described as talented, well-educated people who are unable to find a job in the state, which leads them to relocate.

Potential employees are looking for safety, security and future opportunities, according to Rachel Sams, editor-in-chief at Albuquerque Business First.

"I think the thing that young professionals often think about is if this job doesn't work out, if I lose my job, is there another option for me in New Mexico? And, sometimes, if they don't see one, they feel like that is too big of a risk. They want to go to a bigger market where their skills could be used at different companies,” Sams said.

Some people are also looking to other states because of a greater chance for advancement.

Crystal Trujillo moved to the East Coast when she realized she couldn't get much farther here in New Mexico.

A high number of New Mexicans who leave New Mexico are recent college graduates.

Jeffery Mitchell, who researches New Mexico’s economy, says that's concerning since college students from New Mexico depend on the lottery scholarship.

"One could actually suggest that what we are doing in this is subsidizing our competition,” Mitchell said. “We provide the education at considerable cost and once they're ready to go to work, they go elsewhere and apply their skills."

Mitchell says Brain Drain can have a negative impact on a local economy.

“I would also say that this is, again, not something that's specific to New Mexico or unique to New Mexico,” Mitchell said. “I think smaller states, rural areas in general, have been experiencing Brain Drain for some time."

Sams believes the same can be said for metro areas that are dealing with explosive growth.

“I was recently talking with someone I know in Miami. They are really struggling to keep great talent in Miami because the cost of living has gotten so high,” Sams said. “Their great talent can go somewhere else, make a good salary and have a lower cost of living."

New Mexico's cost of living is considered a positive when compared to major U.S. cities.

So how can New Mexico hold on to its best and brightest?

Sams says local companies can help.

“When I lived in Baltimore, the city and local employers had some incentives where if you stayed local, they would help you with some incentives toward a house, to help you buy a house," she said.

However, Mitchell says New Mexico leaders will need to figure out which problem to address first.

"It's somewhat of a chicken and egg type of story. In order to create the jobs, you need the workforce. In order to retain the workforce, you need the jobs," Mitchell said. “If you are going to be successful in creating a strong economy, you need the people, the talented workforce here, so you need to work on both sides - you need to work on retaining the workers and in creating the businesses. There's no single one fix."

New Mexico lawmakers are aware of Brain Drain. Over the years, some have introduced legislation that would have made it easier for us to keep the state’s talent. However, most - if not all - of those ideas died in Santa Fe.


Steve Soliz

Copyright 2018 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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