South Florida is a beautiful, beach rich, year-round summer wonderland, that has a reputation for being occupied by senior citizens who are sixty-five and older. Now, while pursuing a change, local South Florida politicians are aiming to attract America’s young bright minds to the tip of the Floridian peninsula. The rise of the Wynwood Art Scene, Miami’s continuous Manhattanization, and a burgeoning tech-sector makes South Florida the fourth largest urban area in the U.S.
Anyone who Googles “Miami Skyline 2020” sees a cityscape that will soon rival Chicago, Austin, and San Francisco. Miami is already America’s fourth most popular AirBnB market and the Capitol of Latin America. So why does South Florida only see new young faces during spring break, and on the campuses of the University of Miami and Florida International University? Three reasons: jobs, real-estate, and transportation.
No matter how low taxes are or how cool the art scene, South Florida needs better quality jobs if it wants an influx of millennials. The Corporation for Enterprise Development ranks Florida among worst states for low-wage jobs. Furthermore, Indeed.com, U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, and Forbes Magazine all agree that Miami is one of the hardest cities to find a job and that most available jobs are pretty low quality. MIT has calculated Miami’s real living wage at $10.12 an hour which is notably higher than the current minimum wage of $7.33. Why do South Florida politicians try to attract younger Americans, yet do nothing to change these unappealing characteristics about the Magic City? Millennials are the generation with the largest student loans burden ever, so unless salaries go up millennials will likely take their talents elsewhere, just like LeBron James. Current salaries are only acceptable to begrudging young locals who still live with their parents.
The lack of millennial migration may be to blame for a new South Florida real estate bubble. With a scarcity of millennials who earn enough to make student loan payments and take out a mortgage to buy property, South Florida real estate is finding it more profitable to pitch their listings to wealthy Latin Americans and Northern Snow Birds looking to buy a second home. This is a limited market, meaning the fear of another 2007 real estate crash is in the back of the minds for South Florida realtors. One way to calm the bubble is helping more graduates buy their first home, and not just praying another Latin American country experiences enough civil unrest to scare their rich to the shores of Biscayne Bay.
Finally, the lack of public transportation is coming back to haunt the Miami-Dade County government. Millennials are appealed to cities like Chicago, New York, and Washington D.C not just because of the job market (and each city has a very attractive high-paying job market for millennials) but millennials do not need a car to live there. If South Florida is going to offer low-quality jobs then provide a public transportation system that doesn't require the employed to make car loan payments, insurance payments, and gas payments on top of rent to get to work every day.
To be fair, the creation of the new MiamiCentral Station that will connect the Brightline, Tri-Rail, Metrorail, and Metromover is a huge step toward an interconnected South Florida. Even though applause is well deserved, the new public transit will be nowhere near as comprehensive as Washington or New York, and South Florida will continue to lose talent to these Northern cities.
With that said, the Capitol of Latin America doesn’t want to address the economic elephants in the room. The current South Florida market is very friendly to those living at home or coming from Latin America, but an anti-immigrant Congress threatens to change the demographic composition of the Tri-County area. This is especially true with Florida’s Republic Senator Marco Rubio submitting legislation to silently repeal Wet Foot, Dry Foot, legislation that allow Cubans to easily seek asylum in the U.S. South Florida is in no position to attract new talent, and will retain its title as the Capitol of second homes and senior citizens until something changes. Wynwood is cool and all guys, but so is Brooklyn’s Williamsburg and Washington D.C’s Navy Yard.