Make us your home page

To keep young talent, Tampa Bay needs to get 'cool' before economy rebounds

What Tampa Bay needs are more ways to be "cool" to young, talented adults, says Nielsen Co. executive vice president Bob McCann, who runs the 3,000-plus employee media rating/consumer research business in Oldsmar.

Sound familiar? It's the mantra muttered in every aspiring metro area in the United States. And despite some positive strides, Tampa Bay — like most metro areas across the eastern U.S. (exception: Washington, D.C.) — remains a follower, not a leader, when it comes to conjuring ways to attract and keep young adult talent.

McCann should know. While Nielsen recruited 20 graduates from the University of South Florida in the past year, the company still has 150 job openings that McCann says are hard to fill locally. He rattles off jobs requiring engineering, software and data processing skills.

Young people blessed with such skills apparently are not sticking around in sufficient numbers. New U.S. census data show that between 2008 and 2010, amid this prolonged recession, many adults 25 to 34 did not move. But those who did headed west, not east and not southeast.

The top three cities with the greatest net gains in young adults were Denver, Houston and Dallas. Cities losing the most young adults during that period are Los Angeles, New York and Chicago. Miami ranked 5th with the greatest outflow (5,724) of young adults in that period.

To be fair, the Florida economy has been hit harder than many other parts of the country. That offers a partial explanation of why young Floridians are heading west. Not only is the jobless rate in Florida higher (at 10.6 percent) than the national rate (9 percent), but vast portions of younger adults here, made more vulnerable by coming of house-buying age during the Florida housing bubble, find they hold mortgages now larger than the value of their homes.

At the Brookings think tank, demographics expert Bill Frey blogs that while young people are moving less than before, "It is interesting to see where those who did move went." He rattles off Denver; Houston; Dallas; Seattle; Austin, Texas; Washington, D.C.; and Portland, Ore. Says Frey: "All seven are places where young people can feel connected and have attachments to colleges or universities among highly educated residents."

When the U.S. economy improves, Frey predicts, the modest flow of young adults to these cities may soar. If so, we better get cooler quickly.

The trick is that young adults are looking for more than camaraderie and fun stuff to do. Most want decent-paying jobs to help cover student loans, and real career tracks. They want housing markets that won't drop them into mortgage quicksand.

A recent poll of 872 18- to 24-year-olds conducted for the Demos public policy group and the nonprofit Young Invincibles found that almost half believe they will be worse off than their parents. Over half report annual pretax incomes below $30,000 while 32 percent have income above $30,000 (12 percent did not answer).

More than half are worried about affording college or training. And 24 percent are very worried, ranking it a "10" on a scale of one to 10.

That's just one reason that Occupy Wall Street is a movement of frustration that will not go away any time soon.

Contact Robert Trigaux at

To keep young talent, Tampa Bay needs to get 'cool' before economy rebounds 11/07/11 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 10:38pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Former Sen. Greg Evers, advocate for law enforcement, dead at 62.

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Former State Sen. Greg Evers, the Baker Florida strawberry farmer and veteran politician, was killed in a single car crash hear his home in Okaloosa County. The Florida Highway Patrol confirmed the death late Tuesday, but deferred any further information pending an investigation. He was 62.

    Former Florida Senator Greg Evers, R- Milton, was a passionate advocate for law enforcement and corrections officers. He was found dead Tuesday afternoon in a car crash. He was 62. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]
  2. Foundation Partners buys Anderson-McQueen Funeral Home


    ST. PETERSBURG — Anderson-McQueen Funeral Home, the Tampa Bay area's largest family-owned funeral company, has been sold.

    Anderson-McQueen Funeral Home, the Tampa Bay area's largest family-owned funeral company, has been sold.
[CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
  3. Water Street Tampa unveils video showing downtown's transformation


    TAMPA — Water Street Tampa, the sweeping, 50-plus acre redevelopment project in Tampa's urban core, has unveiled new images and video of what the downtown district will look like upon completion.

    Strategic Property Partners released a conceptual image of what the Tampa skyline will look like once its redevelopment of 50-plus acres of downtown will look like. [Photo courtesy of  of SPP]
  4. Florida ranks high for workplace equality between men and women

    Working Life

    When it comes to the workplace, Florida ranks fifth in terms of gender equality, a WalletHub study released Tuesday found.

    Florida ranks high in terms of equality between men and women in the workplace. Pictured is Sandra Murman, county commissioner in 2015, talking about the differences in pay between men and women. | [Times file photo]
  5. Treasury secretary's wife boasts of travel on government plane, touts high fashion


    U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin's wife, Louise Linton, boasted of flying on a government plane with her husband to Kentucky on Monday and then named the numerous fashion brands she wore on the trip in an unusual social media post that only became more bizarre minutes later.

    Steven Mnuchin and his then- financee Louise Linton watch as President Donald Trump speaks during Mnuchin's swearing-in ceremony as  treasury secretary in the Oval Office of the White House on Feb. 13. [Mandel Ngan | AFP via Getty Images]