Boynton Beach, Florida, is a popular fishing spot for the city’s rich.
But for years, it’s been a ghost town.
It’s a tale that’s become all too familiar in the city, where unemployment rates hover around 9 percent and crime rates are among the highest in the state.
The city’s boomer generation, which began to arrive in the 1950s, moved here for work.
But as their numbers dwindled, so did the jobs.
By the 1980s, unemployment in Boynton was at 10 percent.
By 2000, unemployment was 10 percent again, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Boynton’s unemployment rate was 14 percent in 2013.
That year, the city council voted to cut the number of jobs available from 12,000 to 4,000, and then eliminated the city budget altogether.
“We didn’t have money for a lot of things,” said Mike Riehle, a Boynton resident who has been unemployed since 2010.
Riekle said he’s now in the fourth year of a jobless check.
“I was trying to get an affordable apartment in the neighborhood and a roof over my head, and it didn’t work,” Rieple said.
The city has cut back on services, cut back its libraries, cut down on social services.
The unemployment rate is higher in some neighborhoods.
In the area surrounding Boynton’s historic downtown, unemployment has climbed from 5 percent in 2007 to 13 percent in 2015, according the UBS Center for Workforce Studies.
The area is also faring worse than other parts of the state, according a 2015 study by the National Employment Law Project, which is also working to increase job opportunities for residents.
The economic downturn hit Boynton hard.
More than 2,100 layoffs occurred during that period.
More layoffs and fewer workers have resulted in unemployment in areas that were previously safe havens, like the area around Boynton City Hall, said John McDonough, an economic development expert with the National Association of Realtors.
McDonough said Boynton is no longer a safe haven for workers, either.
The number of layoffs in Boynell’s downtown area increased by more than 20 percent between 2007 and 2015, from 1,726 to 2,988, according in the study.
McDonald said unemployment in the area peaked in 2015 at 14 percent.
He added that unemployment rates in Boycottville, a city about an hour’s drive north, jumped by over 15 percent.
“The numbers in Boykin are staggering, and I’ve heard from multiple sources that the unemployment rate in Boycotville is closer to 18 percent,” he said.
McDehough said the Boynton area is struggling to find new jobs.
In 2015, the UBI estimated that about 1,300 jobs were available, but the number has fallen significantly since then.
“You don’t hear about that in the business community,” McDonow said.
“We’re going through a time where jobs are hard to find.”
“If we don’t get the workforce we need, then we’re going to have a lot more problems,” McDevitt said.
Riehl said he hopes the economic downturn will lead to more jobs for the area.
He said the city needs to focus on training its workforce.
“When the economy is strong, the jobs will come,” Rio said.