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Advocates see ‘crisis’ in lack of employment for young people

Tampa Bay Business Journal on May 7, 2013
By Mark Holan

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn frequently talks about wanting to keep his two young daughters from leaving Tampa when it comes time to start their careers.

He and other economic development leaders are eager to attract and retain young entrepreneurs and other creative types in Tampa Bay.

Young Invincibles, a national organization committed to increasing economic opportunity for younger Americans, has released an analysis of unemployment within this demographic group in Florida, calling the current situation “a crisis.”

The report says 58 percent of workers ages 18 to 24 were employed full-time in 2011, down from 71 percent in 2005. The median income in the 25 to 34 year old age group dropped to $30,642 in 2011 from $34,357 six years earlier.

“According to our analysis of census data, the unemployment rate for 16 to 24 year olds in Tampa averaged 22.4 percent from 2009 to 2011. This is far above the unemployment rate for young Floridians and for young adults nationally,” said Rory O’Sullivan, policy director for Young Invincibles.

Nationally, unemployment among those 20 to 24 years old was 13.1 percent in April, according to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The Young Invincibles report says: “In a time of across-the-board budget cuts, dismal job prospects continue to leave young Americans unsure about their economic future. Currently, young adults face a national unemployment rate of 16.1 percent, which is over twice the national average. In Florida, the unemployment rate for young adults [16.4 percent] is nearly twice the state average.”

Just under 20 percent of the regional population is age 18 to 34, according to the Tampa Bay Partnership, while nearly 26 percent is age 35-54. The median age in the region is 43.21.