Rogue Valley Migration Age and Education Level

Rogue Valley Migration Age and Education Level

by Guy Tauer

September 9, 2016

A couple of fallacies I often hear are regarding migration trends. I've heard people lament the "brain drain" in the Rogue Valley. The idea that one of our main export products is our educated population just doesn't hold water, if you believe the most recent data from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey. Another not-quite-accurate urban legend is that most people moving into the Rogue Valley are retirees, displacing a younger population leaving in droves to find greener pastures elsewhere. For Josephine County, that is part of the case, but not so much in Jackson County.

Populations are in a constant state of flux. Even in communities where population totals show little change, the residents this year are not exactly the same residents who were the residents the prior year. It is true that our population is aging overall, as it is in most areas, simply due to the large cohort of baby-boomer population, the youngest of whom are in their early 50s. Full disclosure: I am also a baby boomer – the last of that cohort, as I was born in 1964.

Migration or "geographic mobility" data from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey (ACS) are the source of this information. The most recent data show that Jackson County "imported" 1,447 residents with graduate or professional degrees and "exported" 1,147 residents in the highest educational attainment group. There were also fewer people out-migrating than in-migrating with bachelor degrees: 1,800 versus 1,319 in 2014.

On the other end of the educational attainment spectrum, about as many people moved to (856) Jackson County with less than a high school education than moved out (801). About 2,580 people with a high school diploma or equivalent moved to Jackson County and about 2,210 moved out.

Josephine County had positive net migration, more moving in than moving out, for those with graduate or professional degrees and some college or associates degree. Bachelor degree holders had about the same number moving in to Josephine County as moving out. On the lower end of the educational spectrum, more people with high school diplomas or less education moved in to Josephine County than moved out. A slightly higher percent of total out-migrants had a bachelor's degree than the percent of the total moving to Josephine County. In contrast, a slightly higher percent of the total in-migrants to Josephine County had a graduate or professional degree compared with the percent of the total out-migrants from the county. But taking this data set as a whole, it doesn't really give credence to the brain drain story.

Migration by Age

In Jackson County, there were about 193,800 residents who lived in the same county the prior year and 13,485 who migrated into the county from other places. Out-migration totaled 12,368 in 2014. One commonly held belief is that most people who move to this region are retirees or in older age groups. These data show there are large numbers of older age migrants who move to the Rogue Valley. However, the largest portion of in-migrants are those age 34 years and younger. In Jackson County, nearly 4,200 in-migrants were between 20 and 34 years old. This was nearly double the number of in-migrants ages 60 and older who moved to Jackson County. There were about the same number of in-migrants ages 17 and under as those 60 and older. In other words, there seems to be more overall geographic mobility for those ages 20 to 34 than those ages 60 and older.

Josephine County shows a slightly different composition of migration by age group. Josephine County did have more people moving out than moving in for four of the six youngest age categories. On the other hand, there were more moving in than out-migrating in the 75 and older, and the 65 to 69 year old groups.

These data shed light on the people migrating to the Rogue Valley from other counties, states and countries. It's not just retirees moving into the Rogue Valley. Recent in-migrants include people of all age groups and education who make up the new residents of the region. These migration data from 2014 somewhat dispel the"brain drain" myth from the Rogue Valley, and show more of a "brain exchange" of people moving into and out of the area with varying degrees of educational attainment.