Two experts who follow the loss of population in rural America says it’s unrealistic for small towns to think they can reverse the trend of single, college-educated people under 35 who move away. Sociologist Maria Kefalas has written a book on the subject. She says small towns should be matching community college grads to high-demand jobs.
Kefalas says the towns need nurses, dental hygienists, and “folks to work in this new green energy movement.” She says the towns need to really plan to match the high school and community college curriculum with the young people who are not going to college. Kefalas calls young, highly-educated Nebraskans the “high flyers” who will inevitably be attracted to cities.
Creighton University economist Ernie Goss also advises communities to be more realistic about who’s going to stay in small towns and who isn’t. “Getting single college educated — that’s with a bachelors degree — under 35 individuals to stay in a community, using resources for that is not wise. Those individuals have never stayed in small towns, never stayed in rural areas,” Goss says.
He warns that America will never return to the iconic small towns of the 50s.