The Franklin County Development Council and Communities in Schools organizations, along with a number of other sponsors, played host to more than 150 OHS seniors in various locales across the city of Ottawa. Whether students want to work in the public or private sector — in medical, law, banking, small business, recreation, nonprofits or some other field — someone was there to try to answer students’ questions about a path that could help them find their way back to Ottawa and Franklin County.
The odds are that more than half of those students will remain in their hometown, while the rest will leave for college and perhaps return later in life once they have established their careers — often times in larger, urban areas. Just 15 percent of people in a recent Pew Research Center study had lived in four states or more. Even those people, though, eventually might want to come home to finish out their careers.
The struggling economy of the past five years has ensured fewer young adults can afford to be very far away from their family’s support system. The ability to move also is more complicated for dual career couples who must find two jobs, instead of just one, when attempting to make a move.
Americans’ mobility has decreased through the years. While it once was common for more than 20 percent of Americans to move annually (as far back as 1951), recent U.S. Census data indicates less than 12 percent of Americans are moving.
Not surprisingly, those people who graduate from college are more likely than others to live in places other than their hometowns and home state. Those moves, primarily for economic reasons of good job opportunities, trumped the need to be near family.
Franklin County’s rural orientation makes it a leading contender for out-migration, however, this area hasn’t experienced the population declines evident in many other rural counties across the state of Kansas and throughout the country. Research shows counties avoiding out-migration losses succeeded by having desired quality of life amenities as well as having appealing economic/job opportunities to entice former residents back. Efforts, such as last week’s Day on the Job initiative, can help keep this area high on OHS students’ radar screen now and in the future — avoiding an otherwise inevitable brain drain from the area.
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