Unlocking brain gain

Money talks. That’s evident in a recent report by Donna Ginther, a distinguished professor of economics at the University of Kansas. Kansas salaries are lower for most business and engineering jobs than surrounding states. But companies located in KU Innovation Park defy those numbers.

  • The Park is home to 68 companies employing nearly 670 people with an annual payroll of $44 million.
  • The average salary for a Park employee is approximately $66,000, roughly twice the Lawrence and Kansas median per capita income.
  • The Park is focused on creating jobs in high-wage, high-growth industries to ensure a sustainable and healthy economy that’s diverse and resilient.

Brain drain vs. gain: The migration of young people with degrees has been well-documented. Years ago, it was a rural problem. Now, college-educated workers are fleeing America’s biggest cities. So, where does Kansas stand?

  • Ginther’s research shows that while Kansas does lose highly educated young people to places like Texas, California and Colorado, the state also pulls in degree-holders from other states, especially from the Missouri side of Kansas City.
  • Considering both sides of that migration, overall, the state is experiencing a decline of less than half a percent of its educated folks between the ages of 20 and 35.

Getting sticky: One of Dr. Ginther’s conclusions is that Kansas companies have an opportunity to recruit young and educated residents to keep them in the state, increasing the stickiness of the Sunflower State.

You can see Dr. Ginther’s full report, which was presented to the Kansas Board of Regents, here.