According to a recent report completed by the CBRE, Ft. Lauderdale ranked #2, and Miami at #4 on their list of tech talent momentum markets, i.e. the markets with the highest increase in tech job growth. South Florida is home to Magic Leap, the anticipated industry leader of the new era of tech, augmented reality. Developers such as Moishe Mana and Magic City are investing more and more to encourage a tech startup environment in the city, and South Florida regularly sees talent flowing in from all over America, South America, and the Caribbean. However, for many local residents here in South Florida, the outlook is not as positive.
Unfortunately, when looking at income inequality we begin to see that Florida ranks among worst in the nation, with the top 1% taking home over 28% of the income as of 2007* – and it is likely even higher now given the wealth distribution of the financial bounce back from the 2008 financial crisis. In terms of total income in the state going to the 1%, Florida ranks 5th highest in the nation*, meaning there are only 4 states in America where the top 1% has a higher percentage of the total income. From 1979 to 2007, the income of the top 1% has grown by 218%*, while the income of the bottom 99% has grown by a little over 13%*. The median income in Florida lands at 39th (at $49.4k/year) in America as of 2015*, and according to Bloomberg, Miami is the most unequal city in America based on the Gini Coefficient* (the most commonly used measure of income inequality).
Florida ranks 41st in America when considering the total funding per student*, which places it strikingly close to their ranking in median income (39th), suggesting there could be a correlation between the amount spent on public education and median income in a given area. Unfortunately, STEM is the most expensive form of education due to the nature of the subjects being taught and the equipment needed to visualize and test different theories, so it is usually the first area to be cut when costs need to be shed. 87% of students in Florida attend public school, and the average income of households with a child in private school is 174% of the income of households with children in public school, signaling private school is out of reach for the majority of Florida’s youth in the near future.
STEM subjects are known for being some of the most challenging due to the difficulty of the material, however it can also be the most exciting. Unfortunately, the fun part of STEM can be the most expensive, as computers are needed to teach children how to code, mechanical parts are needed to build robots, and organs are needed for dissections. STEM careers on average are the highest paying careers in the world today, with graduates earning over $65k/year, and thus provide a great opportunity to reverse the trend of increasing income inequality in South Florida since the many locals currently work in hospitality which is a notoriously low paying industry.
However, to circle back to the CBRE study mentioned at the beginning of the article, we know job growth in tech in the state is picking up pace, but we also know the locals are not receiving the same investment in their education as their counterparts across the nation. We live in a country with an open job market across state lines, so Florida public school students (41st in the nation in total funding per student) will be competing directly with students coming from the other 40 states where children receive a higher investment in their education.
Here at the Manifezt Foundation, we want to ensure locals in South Florida are on the same playing field as their counterparts across the nation, and we want to provide children in underprivileged communities access to the same education that kids from wealthier backgrounds have the option of enjoying. We compile resources from the local community and organize volunteers to implement our forward-thinking, project-based learning curriculum, to ensure the people of South Florida are not left behind by the tech boom coming to their state, with the ultimate goal of reducing income inequality by giving those at the bottom the opportunity to lift themselves up.
- CBRE – ‘Scoring Tech Talent in North America 2017’
- The Economic Analysis and Research Network – “The Increasingly Unequal States of America”
- United States Census Bureau
- Bloomberg – The 10 Most Unequal Cities in America
- Education Law Center & Rutgers Graduate School of Education: Is School Funding Fair? A National Report Card (Sixth Edition, January 2017)
- Business Insider: Science and Math Majors Earn the Most Money After Graduation