The Public Policy Institute of California projects a shortfall of over a million college graduates in the state by 2030.

The Public Policy Institute of California projects a shortfall of over a million college graduates in the state by 2030. (John Walker/Flickr )

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One in three Californians say they are seriously considering leaving the state because of high housing costs. And, for the past decade or so, California has been exporting more residents to other states than it imports.

But new census numbers show one group keeps coming: young college graduates.

The Public Policy Institute of California crunched the numbers and found almost 140,000 college graduates moved to California from other states between 2011 and 2016. That’s about half as many college degrees as the entire University of California system produced over the same period.

This pattern — losing so many less educated residents and gaining so many college grads — is unique in the nation, says Hans Johnson, who runs the Higher Education Center at the Public Policy Institute of California. But it’s not necessarily a welcome distinction.

“Certainly most people in California, and most young adults, do not acquire a college degree,” he says. “And for them, housing costs and work opportunities are such that many of them feel that they need to leave the state.”

Most of the grads moving to California are in their 20s, and many have degrees in engineering, economics and computer science. They’re coming because of the demand for highly skilled and educated workers.

Johnson says that even with the influx of grads from other states, there won’t be enough educated workers to meet California’s needs in the near future.

“It’s still not a solution to our long-term needs to provide better education pathways for California residents, so they are able to take advantage of the state’s economy and in fact contribute to the state’s increasingly highly skilled economy,” he says.

The institute projects that by 2030 the state will still need another million college grads to meet workforce demands.

California Importing More College Graduates, But Not Keeping Up With Workforce Demands 12 January,2018Vanessa Rancano


Vanessa Rancano

Vanessa Rancano is the Central Valley reporter for The California Report. Before joining KQED she was an NPR Kroc Fellow and a California Endowment Fellow with Latino USA. She’s a graduate of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.