Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Community Trauma And Brain Drain

Florida is shrinking and I'm not talking about global warming raising the sea level. There's a migration economy and many of the Sun Belt states benefited from it. Now the tide is turning, leaving behind a traumatized community:

“It’s got to be a real psychological blow,” said William H. Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution who predicted that census data in December would confirm the findings. “I don’t know if you can take a whole state to a psychiatrist, but the whole Florida economy was based on migration flows.”

Frey's observation reminds me of Pittsburgh and the hangover from the exodus of young talent during the 1980s. The devastation to the collective psyche of the region may be the biggest hurdle to overcome. But at least there wasn't a bubble economy like there was in Florida.

This is the downside to greenfield development and marginal legacy costs. The macroeconomic structure shifts and leaves a bunch of places behind with no real roots, no means for reinvention. Is there a Florida Diaspora? I doubt it. Just a bunch of displaced Rust Belters looking for a way home.

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