Long-anticipated data from the 2020 United States Census offer a new perspective on how much the Tampa Bay Area has changed demographically since the previous Census was taken in 2010.
The decennially released information shows the city of Tampa grew by nearly 50,000 residents in the last 10 years, from 335,709 in 2010 to 384,959 residents in 2020, making it the nation’s 52nd largest city.
In 2020, Tampa was approximately 49.7% White alone, 21.9% Black alone, 5.4% Asian alone, and 0.4% American Indian and Alaska Native alone, and just less than 0.1% Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone.
Meanwhile, those considering themselves Some Other Race amounted to 7.6% of the population, while those of two or more races represented 14.8% of Tampa’s population. Hispanics, representing diverse ethnic groups who can belong to any race, account for 25.6% of Tampans.
The population counts are vital in determining the socioeconomic picture of Tampa.
It’s the type of information Tampa City Councilman Luis Viera, representing the city’s District 7, wants to know. His jurisdiction is one of Tampa’s largest and most diverse regions. Sprawling across the northern reaches of the city, District 7 encompasses the predominately White, middle-income neighborhoods of Forest Hills and New Tampa as well as the diverse, mixed-income Uptown District near the University of South Florida and northern stretches of historically Black East Tampa by the Hillsborough River.
District 7 is also one of the fastest-growing areas in the entire Tampa Bay region.
The challenges of growth
Consider the situation at Fire Station 13, located at 2713 East Annie Street in the shadows of the monstrous roller coasters at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.
“It’s the busiest fire station in the city of Tampa,” remarks Viera. With 11,000 calls -- 13% of all calls coming into the city’s 23 fire stations -- in 2019, Fire Station 13 has not only become the city’s busiest firehouse, but it’s also the 54th busiest in the entire United States -- a reflection of steady population growth in North Tampa.
After meeting with residents and other stakeholders, Viera helped secure $5 million for projects that will help alleviate the stress on this overburdened fire station. Of this money, $900,000 is being earmarked to convert old Fire Station 11 into the new Fire Station 25 with another $2.5 million to provide vehicles and equipment for that location, $160,000 for upgrades at New Tampa’s Fire Station 21 and an $810,000 heavy-duty rescue vehicle there, along with $880,000 to build Fire Station 24 in New Tampa. The money will come from $80 million in pandemic relief funds.
There are many other pressing issues in the broader North Tampa community that Viera serves, including persistent poverty and joblessness.
“It’s clear that, like author Michael Harrington wrote in his book The Other America: Poverty in the United States, there’s the ‘other Tampa.’ We have people left behind in places like the USF area and Sulphur Springs, where two out of three kids are living in poverty.”
He says it’s clear that not all of Tampa is enjoying the benefit of a city that is otherwise seeing massive growth in free enterprise.
More Census data will be released in coming months providing further details on how North Tampa fares economically, though the area has experienced large pockets of poverty and demand for social safety net programs for decades. Viera believes opening more opportunities for apprenticeships is one way to improve economic conditions for so many in North Tampa.
Reasons for hope
“If you tell a kid about to graduate from King or Jefferson High that they can go on to something like a welding program and can graduate debt-free and start a job that pays $50,000 per year and that they’ll have a set of trade skills for life, who could turn that down?”
He says while much of the groundwork has been laid in building funds to help create these partnerships, there still exists the need on how to educate contractors on how and where to offer these programs.
“It’s about giving young people hope.”
He says private-public partnerships are a clear path to expanding more economic opportunities in North Tampa, especially for those who are experiencing the greatest need.
“There are so many incubators in that area, such as Moffitt Cancer Center, AdventHealth, and USF -- places that can help our communities succeed.”
To learn more, visit U.S. Census Data.