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St. Petersburg ranks as No. 1 millennial draw in Florida

Published Jan. 29, 2015

For those who still think of St. Petersburg as luring retirees to hang out in "God's waiting room," the younger generation is poised to make its move.

St. Petersburg has been singled out by credit card promoter NerdWallet as the best city in Florida for drawing in millennials. Across the bay, Tampa was nipping at its heels as the third-most-attractive market for those ages 20 to 34, while Clearwater came in at No. 12.

NerdWallet dissected conditions in 93 cities and towns statewide based on four factors: number of jobs, salaries, rent and the number of other millennials living there.

St. Petersburg's top ranking was tied to "a thriving economy with the average payroll salary of $47,471," or $13,500 higher than the average among the cities studied, NerdWallet said. It also cited headquarters like Raymond James Financial, EverBank and Jabil Circuit; median rents of $924 a month; and a "bustling" restaurant and entertainment district downtown.

Since 2010, St. Petersburg's millennial population has increased 6 percent.

Tampa, due partly to the University of South Florida, boasted a 7 percent increase in millennials; that demographic now accounts for 24 percent of its residents. The city's average salary of $47,306 is 28 percent higher than the average among Florida cities and towns.

With the rate of homeownership dropping to a new low among millennials last year, affordable rent played a key role. Seven of the best-rated cities have rents less than the state's median of $946 a month.

Overall, youngsters tend to gravitate to urban areas, the analysis concluded, with seven of the top 10 cities having populations exceeding 100,000.

But there were clear exceptions: Orlando, which outpaced Tampa Bay 2-1 in job creation last year, didn't even crack Florida's Top 10.

Contact Jeff Harrington at jharrington@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3434. Follow @JeffMHarrington.

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