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State You're In: Tampa is not making anyone's A list

Someone threw another brick through Tampa's window last week.

So far this year, America's Next Great City has received these image-shattering statistical assessments:

Second-most dangerous burg in the country for pedestrians (harsh but true, Transportation for America). Sixty percent of our homes are underwater (thanks for the tough love, Zillow). Even when ranked Tampa 47th on a list of best cities, it came with the downbeat caveat that we would have ranked much higher if it weren't for all the smog.

Now the Daily Beast has crunched some census numbers on categories that pertain to young people: unemployment, education, indebtedness and marital status. The operative word is crunch.

"The recession caused severe, and possibly irreversible, damage to the future of America's newest adult population."

Tampa comes in at No. 24 on the list of cities with the worst "lost generation" problem. Unemployment for those ages 20-24 is 12.5 percent.

Mayor Bob Buckhorn hadn't seen the Daily Beast's list (though the first Occupy Tampa protesters had already converged on downtown) when he sat down with about 60 students at the University of South Florida this month.

"I don't want you to go to Austin, Texas," the mayor said. "I want you to stay here."

But it's not up to them alone. The brain drain that saps Tampa's vitality in favor of Austin (not on the list) and Raleigh-Durham (not on the list), for example, has to do with a bunch of things like jobs and mass transit that young people can't control.

Buckhorn had it right when he told the students it's time to rethink an economy built on housing.

"Make no mistake," the mayor said, "Florida is still a crack addict for real estate."

We're also addicted to all the wrong lists.

Bill Duryea, Times staff writer

State You're In: Tampa is not making anyone's A list 10/28/11 [Last modified: Friday, October 28, 2011 6:09pm]
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