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Robert Trigaux

Despite drop in housing prices, affordability in Florida declines for 'working' households




Florida ranks second nationwide, after California, with the highest portion of "working households" spending at least half their income on housing costs, according to a new survey.

Wake up and good morning. It feels wrong at first. How can Florida -- where housing prices have dropped like a stone for years -- rank No. 2 behind pricey California as the state with the highest number of "working households" paying at least half of their income on housing costs? According to this new Center for Housing Policy survey, a third of Florida working households pay more than half their income on housing.

The trick, of course, is not that housing costs have not dropped in Florida. It is that household income has dropped faster, thus forcing more working households to pay more of a smaller paycheck to cover housing.

What does "working households" mean? The Center study, using Census Bureau data, defines them as households that worked at least 20 hours per week, on average and had household income of no more than 120 percent of the median income in their area.

Here's the implication for Florida. While a third of working households must pay half or more of their income to cover housing, only a quarter of the nation on average faces the same housing burden. That big difference spells a very weak recovery for this state, as a larger portion of working Floridians will spend far less on goods and services other than housing.

How did Tampa Bay do? A bit better than the state as a whole. The Center survey found 29 percent of metro area working households paid more than half of their income on housing costs -- whether they are owners or renters. What really damaged Florida in this survey was the greater Miami area where an astonishing 43 percent of working households pay more than 50 percent of their income to housing. That is by far the worst spot in America based on this criteria, even worse than traditionally super-expensive housing areas like San Diego or San Francisco.

The housing crush is reinforced in this state by the recent Tampa Bay Times analysis that finds that most of the new jobs being created in this state pay about 25 percent less than the jobs that were lost in this recession.

"Despite the fact that we're seeing declining home prices across the country, housing isn't becoming more affordable," says Laura Williams, the study's author and a research associate at the Center, in this Wall Street Journal story. Read more on this from urban economist Richard Florida in this Atlantic piece.

Funny how Gov. Rick "Jobs Jobs Jobs" Scott continues to gloss over this glaring economic trend in citing Florida's declining unemployment rate, even as he already starts building his campaign chest for re-election.

Here is the complete Center for Housing Policy study.

-- Robert Trigaux, Business Columnist, Tampa Bay Times



[Last modified: Monday, February 27, 2012 7:38am]


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