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Robert Trigaux

New recession book slams Tampa (Tampa Bay) as 'lower' tier, a middle class 'mirage'



pinchedbookcover.jpgHe describes an already entrenched two-tiered U.S. economy. The upper tier is populated by people without elaborate toolboxes but with advanced degrees and superior analytical, creative and interpersonal skills. These people congregate in places like Washington, Boston and San Francisco. They feel few, if any, effects of the recession.

The lower tier is made up of people in places like Phoenix and Las Vegas and Tampa, Florida, who are educationally and even dispositionally ill-equipped for a globalized economy.

Wake up and good morning. Those remarks above appear in an Aug. 15 Bloomberg column by Jeffrey Goldberg The "He" mentioned above is author and journalist Don Peck who has written a book (left) called Pinched: How The Great Recession Has Narrowed Our Futures & What We Can Do About It.

Note the reference above to workers in "lower-tier" Tampa. These are our neighbors here who, according to this book, generally lack 21st century skills (higher education) that make them competitive on a global basis and who will suffer long term harm in the workplace. People who may not have excelled at school but who knew how to make things and fix things. Writes Bloomberg's Goldberg:

"The recession was a body blow to these people, of course, but they are also suffering because of some longer-term and more systematic problems, such as our neglect of our national infrastructure (think of the jobs that would have been created if we had taken care of our bridges, highways and airports over the past 30 years), our long journey away from manufacturing, and the painful consequences of increased automation and globalization."

Pinched is harsh to Tampa Bay as a place unable to catch the next economic wave. Says the book's press release: "A mass relocation of highly skilled, highly educated and highly paid Americans to a relatively small number of metropolitan regions is underway.  America’s wealthiest and most dynamic cities are already recovering from the recessions; meanwhile, many former meccas of the middle class –- Las Vegas, Phoenix, Tampa –- have been exposed as mirages."

We'll see about that. This is hardly a metro area that's ignoring its challenges. Perhaps the greatest challenge to Tampa and greater Tampa Bay is public perception. If a book calls us a "lower tier" or less competitive metro area, that's one more strike we have to try and counter -- and counter hard. Are we up to it?

We are certainly much more than a mirage. The question is: How much more?

-- Robert Trigaux, Business Columnist, St. Petersburg Times



[Last modified: Tuesday, August 16, 2011 7:52am]


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