Today NCPR launches an on-going series where we’ll be digging into all the complex questions that surround the issue of “brain drain” and the flight of young people and families from the North Country.
This has emerged as one of the most serious and contentious issues in our region. The issue drew national headlines earlier this month when Cornell University pointed to the loss of young people from Hamilton County in the Adirondacks.
The projections by Cornell’s Program on Applied Demographics also show the number of 30- to 39-year-old residents in the Adirondacks’ Hamilton County decreasing by mid-century to 160, down from 426 in 2010.
The number of 20- to 29-year-old residents will slip to 128 by 2040, down from 354 counted during the last census, according to the researchers.
The cause of this exodus has become a political football. Some local leaders in the Adirondack Park have pointed to environmental regulations and state land ownership as the culprit.
Some green advocates, meanwhile, have maintained that there’s no significant issue at all, suggesting that the greying of communities might not trigger serious impacts.
In this series, we’ll try to sort through the claims and get at the facts, to the degree possible.
Let me start this discussion by asking not for your opinion about the loss of young families from our region, but for your actual experience.
If you’re a parent, have you seen your kids move away? Does your neighborhood look greyer than it did twenty years ago? How about your church? Is your volunteer fire squad having a tough time finding young recruits?
How about school teachers? Are your class sizes dwindling? What are the trends for your school district in terms of enrollment?
I’d love to hear from folks chiming in inside the Adirondack blue line, and from In Boxers outside the Park. And I urge you all to check out this morning’s profile of Becca Johnson, a St. Lawrence County native who works now in Manhattan.
Her personal journey — and the experience of her family — I hope puts a human face on what is often seen as a political or statistical issue.