Pensacola, Florida
Tuesday August 14th 2018

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Outtakes 1/24/13


Busting The Prodigal Myth
By Rick Outzen

Over the years, the Independent News has written about the talent drain as young people leave the area for better paying jobs and more opportunity in larger cities. The rebuttal has often been that the greater Pensacola area’s prodigal sons and daughters will eventually return and their sojourns shouldn’t be a matter of concern.

Richard Florida, founder of the Creative Class Group, a global think tank based in Washington, D.C. and author of “Rise of the Creative Class,” is blunt.

“Many cities think they can lure young people back as they get older and have families,” he wrote recently in The Atlantic magazine, “and while this may work to a certain extent, the simple math suggests they can never recoup their losses of young people.”

The math for Escambia County is startling, and overlooked by our elected officials. No one has addressed the 2010 Census because the numbers show a community in decline.

The “Prodigal Return” is another Pensacola myth. Our young adults aren’t returning, at least not in the numbers that they leave. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Escambia County lost from 2000 to 2010 13,647 people in the 30-44 age group.

And before you ask—no, they didn’t all move to Santa Rosa County, which only had an increase of 221 people in that age group.

What can we do? Richard Florida recommends that we figure out ways to retain that age group. We need a robust job market that pays more than $8 or $10 an hour and has a plethora of employment choices. They want to be around other people their age, which, of course, offers more dating opportunities.

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