When local business leaders unveiled a study comparing Tampa Bay to 19 other areas across the country, the results were a mix of good news and bad news.
The Tampa Bay Partnership’s Regional Competitiveness Report aimed to measure factors that make the area more or less economically competitive, with the hope that improvement would attract more workers and corporations to Tampa Bay.
The competition included large metropolitan areas from San Diego to Baltimore, some of which were meant to be “aspirational,” according to the report.
In each category, there were metrics that spelled good news for Tampa Bay – and those that ranked the region near the bottom. The “economic vitality,” “infrastructure” and “talent” categories each saw large disparities.
Job growth rate
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Survey, Total Non-farm Employment June 2016-June 2017 (not seasonally adjusted)
Source: BLS, Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, 2016 Private Employer Annual Data
Tampa Bay had one of the fastest growing job markets of its peer group, outpaced only by neighboring Orlando. In fact, the two regions lead the entire nation in job growth, according to an August report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics .
Yet the jobs the area has to offer pay much less than many others do. The report noted that low wages may result from economies with lots of retail and tourism jobs.
Hours spent driving in congestion per year
Source: INRIX 2016 Global Traffic Scorecard
Pedestrian and cyclist fatalaties per 100,000 people
Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Fatality Analysis Reporting System, 2015
Drivers in Tampa Bay spend very little time in congestion, a plus because traffic jams hurt businesses’ productivity and cut into workers’ personal time. A Tampa Bay motorist spends about 21.5 hours a year stuck in traffic, just a third of the time drivers in South Florida do.
But the streets are dangerous for anyone outside of a car. The region was second-to-last among its peers in pedestrian and cyclist deaths per capita.
STEM degree production per 10,000 residents
Source: National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, 2015-2016 Academic Year Completions
Percent of population with BA/BS+ degree
Source: Census Bureau, American Community Survey, 2016 1-Year Estimates
Many graduates in Tampa Bay are getting science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) degrees, which on average lead to higher paying jobs. While lagging behind research hubs like Raleigh and Austin, the area awards more STEM degrees per capita than many other large regions.
But overall, higher education in Tampa Bay ranked dead last among its peer areas. About 28 percent of area residents 25 and older have a bachelor’s degree or higher, a relatively small talent pool for high-skilled industry jobs, the group reported.