I’m sure I made a few people angry with my City Talk column today: New city council’s average age is 57; can they relate to younger residents?
The gist of it can be summed up in two sentences from the column: “I’m bringing this up because the problems plaguing the city disproportionately affect children and young adults. We know this from data on education, poverty and joblessness.”
I’ve written a lot over the years about decisions that have made young adults less likely to want to settle in Savannah. Petty squabbles about alcohol licenses, increasing restrictions on nightclubs and live music venues, a cumbersome bureaucracy that makes it hard (and incredibly expensive) for young entrepreneurs to get off the ground, a poor education system, a tolerance for street level petty crimes — I could go on and on.
It’s impossible to tell individual stories with data, but check out this graph of national unemployment for various age groups. So among 16 to 24 year olds who are in the labor force (meaning they are either employed or actively looking), one out of every six are unable to find a job. If we take into account all those who are working part-time but are seeking full-time, we’d certainly see that number increase to a quarter of the age group. The unemployment rate in the city of Savannah, btw, is over 10% (the lower number consistent reported encompasses the entire metro area).
The cities that thrive in the near future will be those that attract, retain, and employ educated younger workers. Savannah does not seem on a course to do that at the moment.