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  • Robert A. Nakosteen, University of Massachusetts - Amherst
  • Michael Goodman
  • Dana Ansel
  • Robert Lacey
  • Rebecca Loveland
  • James Palma
  • Alexandra Proshina
  • Rachel Deyette Werkema

Examining the flow of people moving into and out of Massachusetts over the last decade reveals a state in transition. Our analysis of the Census 2000 data shows that native-born middle-class families are migrating in increasing numbers to other New England states, while smaller numbers of highly educated, highly mobile professionals are arriving in Massachusetts. But, with many choices about where to work and live, there is no guarantee that these workers will make the Bay State their permanent home.

In this respect, Massachusetts is no different from other states with knowledge economies. It is increasingly dependent upon a supply of skilled workers whose ties to the state are tenuous, especially during tough economic times. What makes the situation more acute for Massachusetts is the state’s slow labor force growth and aging population. Massachusetts can ill afford to lose these new migrant workers whose jobs epitomize the present and future Bay State economy.

This research analyzes recent migration patterns in Massachusetts. It examines both the magnitude of migration over the last twelve years and the characteristics of migrants.We also analyze where the people leaving the Bay State are going, and where our new arrivals are coming from. While the new arrivals are striking in their similar demographic and economic characteristics, the profiles of those moving out vary according to their destinations. We identify two different types of out-migrants: the New England migrant, primarily middle-class families; and the Economic Competitor migrant, young, highly educated managers and professionals. In addition, several Southern and Western states appear as new destinations for Massachusetts workers, uncovering additional competition for this colder, more expensive climate.

In looking toward solutions, it is important to keep in mind that these changes took place in the context of an extraordinary economic expansion, illustrating that a strong job market alone is not enough to attract and keep workers. Policy-makers and business leaders must grapple with a new reality:Worker mobility is now a long-term characteristic of the state’s economy.As more and more regions across the country seek to develop knowledge-based economies, Massachusetts faces fierce competition in the contest for skilled workers. But, there are encouraging signs: Our research shows that Massachusetts is narrowly winning the fight to attract young, highly educated talent from its economic competitors—offering the state a foundation on which to build a new strategy.

Publication Date
December, 2003
Citation Information
Robert A. Nakosteen, Michael Goodman, Dana Ansel, Robert Lacey, et al.. "MASS.migration" (2003)
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