Millennials fleeing debt-ridden Chicago are being wooed by nearby Wisconsin to move there instead. The northern state is broadcasting that it offers great opportunities for young workers.
According to a report in the Washington Examiner, Illinois has lost as many as 37,000 millennials each year from 2011 through 2014. In total, 148,000 millennials fled the state during that period of time.
Earlier this month, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation launched its $1 million “Think-Make-Happen in Wisconsin” advertising campaign. Focused on attracting millennial workers from the mean streets of Chicago, the campaign ads have been plastered throughout the city. The state is also using social media ads targeted at people between ages 21 and 34 who live in or around Chicago or are Wisconsin college alumni who have left Wisconsin.
Shorter commutes, lower housing prices and lower property taxes are being advertised by Wisconsin. And the crime isn’t nearly what it is in Chicago — the city had a whopping 758 homicides in 2016.
In attempts to change its reputation as a flyover state, Wisconsin’s business-friendly atmosphere is attracting new companies. One example is Foxconn, a Taiwan electronics company, whose manufacturing plant will soon be employing close to 13,000 workers there.
“We just don’t have enough people,” said Kelly Lietz, vice president of WEDC marketing. “People don’t think of Wisconsin in the terms of all the opportunities it has to offer. People outside the state don’t know and don’t understand.”
On the other hand, young people are tired of Chicago’s crime-ridden streets and inflated cost of living.
According to a 2016 Paul Simon Public Policy Institute study, 57 percent of Illinois millennials want to leave the state. Young people have the flexibility to seek career paths outside of their home state, and they are jumping at the opportunity to leave this progressive “swamp”, according to the report.
In an op-ed for the Chicago Tribune, Austin Berg of the Illinois Policy Institute noted, “There’s little reason to plant roots in a barren economy. Illinois is a national laggard in income growth and jobs growth. And the state’s massive debt is a yoke on the young who had no role in creating it.”