Exodus of the educated

STATE ISSUES: Studies on California’s economic situation show little positive change. Will college graduates stay in such a state?

Data released Tuesday shows that to cover only the most basic needs, a family of four in California requires an average of more than $63,000 a year, or an income level almost triple that of the federal poverty level. While this statistic reveals an incongruence between the federal standard and the reality in California, we also recognize a unique variety of brain drain that could stem from such a high cost — the potential flight of the state’s young and educated contingent.

The report, produced by the Insight Center for Community Economic Development, comes on the heels of other recent indicators of our state’s flagging economic situation: census data released last month revealed that in 2010 the state’s poverty rate soared while the median household income fell.

The most recent cost of living statistics reveal even more implications for California college graduates. Once students leave their campuses, they will inevitably encounter California’s high price tag to simply meet their basic needs. When planning to settle down and start their own families, will our young, educated populace feel that an average of $63,000 needed to support each family of four is worth staying instate?

A possible consequence of this reality would be a unique brand of brain drain — the state’s college-degree wielding youth choosing to seek employment elsewhere once they face the realities of the state’s financial situation post-graduation. If such an exodus were to occur, it would further serve to undermine our already struggling industries and economy. Without college graduates, our state will lose talented citizens who could be helping to fuel the economy and pioneer new enterprises.

As a whole, California has almost always maintained a higher cost of living than the rest of the country. But because our state is so distinct, we would hope to see state legislators doing more to mitigate the great expense that comes with living in California, especially when paired with the still-lagging economy. Our state desperately needs a transformation, or before we know it, valuable citizens will be tempted to leave, seeking residence where the most basic necessities are not weighed as expensively.