Best, brightest leaving state

by Leslie Turk

More people with advanced graduate degrees are leaving Louisiana.

The Advocate reported Thursday that while the state is gaining more population than it loses, Louisiana lost 1,990 more people with advanced graduate and professional degrees than it gained in the swap. The data comes form 2010 U.S. Census Bureau estimates.

Analysts The Advocate interviewed disagreed with Gov. Bobby Jindal's positive spin on whether the new estimates show Louisiana moving forward:

The numbers of people with bachelor's degrees were nearly identical for those coming into and leaving Louisiana.

"That's positive," said Troy Blanchard, a sociology professor and demographer at LSU. "In the past, we were losing four-year-degree people."

Blanchard added, however, that the decrease in Louisiana residents with advanced degrees is a "brain drain that is part of a historic trend."

Jindal was quick to take credit for the overall gains and says the survey's results are positive for the state. But Shreveport demographer Elliott Stonecipher argues that the governor is taking credit for Louisianians who are returning to the state after being displaced by hurricanes.

"My point continues to be the most basic one: if we subtract from these supposed migration 'gains' and 'losses' the churn of Louisiana residents who temporarily moved away from the state in the aftermath of Katrina, Rita, Ike and Gustav, only to return a year or more later, then we would be able to see what's actually happening," Stonecipher said in an email this morning. "In other words, only about now can we begin to study this issue as we had long been doing before the hurricanes hit."

Read the story here.