Survey shows more university graduates staying in Michigan

An increased number of recent graduates of Michigan’s public universities are remaining in the state after graduation, according to preliminary survey results released by the Detroit Regional Chamber at the Mackinac Policy Conference today. The survey indicated that 63 percent of the targeted group of graduates remained in the state, a 12 percent increase from a survey of a comparable group in 2007.

“Talent retention is a key driver of economic vitality,” said Benjamin Erulkar, vice president of economic development for the Detroit Regional Chamber. “States that continue to lose their talented graduates will fall behind in the global economy. While this survey is clearly good news, there is a lot of work to do to increase Michigan’s success in talent retention and development.”

The targeted group identified by the survey consisted of single students younger than 28 who had graduated in May 2012 and were no longer in school. The survey results showed that:

  • Jobs – either having one or desiring to have one – are the driving factor in keeping recent graduates in Michigan.
  • Those graduates who leave Michigan generally do so for higher-paying jobs than jobs held by those who stay in the state.
  • A majority of those who left Michigan did so in search of other urban experiences or areas with more public transportation.

“The better we understand the relationship between mobility, employment and place as it pertains to the decisions people make after graduation, the better positioned Michigan will be to retain and attract the talent it needs to compete globally,” said Michael Finney, president and CEO of the MEDC. “Graduates are one of our state’s greatest resources and we need to continue to showcase to them the great professional and personal opportunities in our state.”

The survey was convened by the Detroit Regional Chamber with funding support from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), the Presidents Council of State Universities of Michigan, and the Michigan Municipal League. iLabs, the University of Michigan-Dearborn’s Center for Innovation Research, surveyed 7,054 graduates of Michigan public universities in response to over 41,000 emails sent between late-January and March 2013.

Michigan Future, Inc. conducted the 2007 study, providing the basis for comparison to the survey of 2012 graduates. The state’s 15 public universities have conferred more than 60,000 degrees over each of the past five years with increases each year.

“Our universities continue to produce top-notch graduates and we lose out on several fronts when they leave our state,” said Dr. Michael A. Boulus, executive director, of the Presidents Council of State Universities of Michigan. “Highly trained graduates bolster our communities and workforce, and define our future. We look forward to studying this issue further to ensure more of our graduates stay right here in the Great Lakes state.”

The 2013 Mackinac Policy Conference’s pillars are culture, education and the 21st century global market. To learn more about how the Conference aims to create a more business-friendly climate in Michigan and drive economic growth, visit

More information about the study is available through UM-Dearborn’s Center for Innovation Research.



Detroit Regional Chamber 2013 Mackinac Policy Conference
The Mackinac Policy Conference – the Detroit Regional Chamber’s annual event – brings together business and government to re-energize Michigan. Since 1981, the Conference has provided access to Michigan’s top business professionals, legislative leaders, corporate CEOs, entrepreneurs and veteran regional champions. Approximately 1,500 attendees will gather for the 2013 Conference, held May 29 – May 31 at the historic Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island.

About the Detroit Regional Chamber
With over 20,000 members and affiliates, that employ over three quarters of a million workers, the Detroit Regional Chamber is one of the largest chambers of commerce in the country. The Chamber’s mission is carried out through business attraction efforts, advocacy, strategic partnerships and providing valuable benefits to members. For more information, please visit

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