Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

No, It's Not the Whole Story, but a Report Says We Flunked

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

No, It's Not the Whole Story, but a Report Says We Flunked

Article excerpt

REPORT CARDS. STANDARDIZED tests.We know they don't show the full measure of performance, but they are still important -- still part of the continuum.So how did the region do in the latest snapshot pitting us against other areas in the Southeast compiled by the Tampa Bay Partnership, an economic development coalition that counts Manatee and Sarasota among its members?Next to last -- and we don't even have bragging rights over another state, because the last- place finisher was Jacksonville.Tops among the six metropolitan areas the partnership tracks was Dallas, with rebounding employment, growth in income and productivity and a housing market showing stability and affordability.The Tampa Bay area ranked No. 1 in transportation, which would normally suggest that our systems are getting people to work with fewer miles driven and shorter commute times.But the partnership read that improvement of our transportation standing as the result of fewer people working and just a smaller number of people driving, both signs of a less-than- robust economy.The region did better in employment and work force, moving up a notch from fifth place to fourth. Likewise, we rose one spot in income and productivity.Where the Tampa Bay area fell off the most -- where we were dead last -- will not surprise you: housing.But some of the reasons might. Despite what many would describe as a fairly tepid recovery in housing, rental properties are commanding high monthly rates -- at least compared with the other places the partnership uses to make comparisons.One of the competing communities, Charlotte, N.C., has an average rental cost of $783 and a median household income of $52,932.In Tampa Bay, the average rent was $868 -- second only to Dallas at $887 -- and the median household income was $44,620. That means 22 percent of that total income would need to be spent on housing costs.In Charlotte County, which ranked tops in rental affordability, that percentage was 16.9.The same principle played out in the cost of single-family home affordability. That median income of $44,620 buys about 34.8 percent of the median-priced home across the region. …

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