Miami's Population is Losing Lots of "Hip," Young Folks

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Is Miami "cool" enough to attract and retain young folks? According to a new analysis by a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute, probably not. New data shows that the Miami area lost more residents aged 25 to 34 than most major American metro areas between 2008 and 2010.

"The new migration data show something else as well. To the extent they are moving at all, young adults are headed to metro areas which are known to have a certain vibe--college towns, high-tech centers, and so-called 'cool cities," writes William H. Frey.

Which explains why towns like Portland, Seattle, and Austin have seen increases in the younger population between the recession hit years of 2008 and 2010, even as migration overall has slowed.

Miami however has lost 5,724 of people in the same demographic in that same time. That's the fifth biggest loss of any metro area. Though, that loss has stymied a bit since 2005 to 2007. In that time frame Miami lost 15,204 25-34-year-olds, and was fourth overall. Though, part of that can be chalked up to the fact that the recessions means less young people are moving overall.

However, no population loss is good loss. Today's young adults are tomorrow's business, cultural, and community leaders after all.

"But what are the qualities that make a city attractive to the young people in this survey?," asks Azure Gilman at Freakenomics. "The big (obvious) answer is jobs. But beyond that, perhaps affordable housing, a low cost of living, a transportation and bicycle infrastructure, an arts culture, and of course, the prospect of being around other young people."

Well, Miami certainly has one of the hottest growing art scenes in America, and other areas of culture continue to gain steam. But despite recent strides made in bicycle friendliness, our transportation system is a mess. There's still apartments with cheap rent to be found, but usually not in the nicest areas. Of course, jobs is probably the biggest culprit.

We highly doubt that young, educated types are going to flock to or stick around in Miami to take jobs at casinos. We also doubt plopping down a giant Walmart in Wynwood, still one of the hubs of youth culture in the city, is going to help much either.

What Miami needs to do, and frankly these are not new conclusions and yet some people always need to be reminded of them, is to continue to make this town a more livable place and attract industries that attract and retain the best, educated young workers with well-paying and satisfying jobs.

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