Tampa Bay income falls with most metro areas, remains $4,000 below U.S. average
Wake up and good morning. (Readers: I'm back from a summer break. Thanks for sticking with me on the Venture blog---R. Trigaux, St. Petersburg Times Business Columnist). Of 21 Florida metro areas last year, per capita income rose (barely) in four and fell in 17 areas, according to new Commerce Department data. Tampa Bay, for example, saw per capita income drop 2 percent in 2009 from 2008, falling to $36,780 from $37,512.
Overall, Florida's income decline only reinforces a recession-strapped state and compels breadwinners to contract their spending to counter the loss in income. Perhaps a 2 percent drop does not sound much but it is significant. Besides, in the year before -- comparing 2008 per capita income in Tampa Bay versus that of 2007 -- income dropped 0.5 percent. So we've been heading in the wrong income direction for some time now.
A few observations. The national average for per capital income last year was $40,757, down 2.8 percent from $41,930 in 2008. So while Tampa Bay income remains lower than the national average -- as it has been for decades -- the recent drop here was less than it was nationally. Also (as the table below will show), the Naples-Marco Island area had both the highest per capital income in the state at $57,548 in 2009 but also sustained the largest drop from 2008, down a whopping 8 percent.
Overall, Florida's metro performance was consistent with the country as a whole. The Commerce Department reports that income declined in 223 metro areas last year, increased in 134 and was unchanged in nine regions. Even though prices declined last year -- down 0.2 percent from a year earlier as measured by the national price index for personal consumption expenditures -- incomes fell even more. On average, personal income dropped 1.8 percent in 2009 (making Tampa Bay's drop close to the national average), following a 2.7 percent increase in 2007 (making Tampa Bay's 0.5 percent decline in the same period all the more painful).
A Wall Street Journal blog posting (here) explains that in metro areas that saw gains, most of the increases came from the government in one way or another. In 77 of the 134 regions that saw incomes increase, the growth came from transfer receipts such as unemployment benefits or Social Security payments. In most of the remaining 57 metro areas, the gains were concentrated in the government sector, the Commerce Department said, including strong growth in military earnings.
Here's how the 21 Florida metro areas fared with per capita income shown for 2009 versus 2008, and the percent change:
Palm Coast: $30912, down from $31741, -2.6 percent
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater: $36780, down from $37512, -2 percent
Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville: $36793, down from $37035, -0.7 percent
Gainesville: $34122, down from $34277, -0.5 percent
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach: $41352, down from $43013, -3.9 percent
Sebastian-Vero Beach: $53277, down from $57107, -6.7 percent
Cape Coral-Fort Myers: $39160, down from $40898, -4.2 percent
Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford: $34315, down from $35717, -3.9 percent
Ocala: $30577, down from $31225, -2.1 percent
Port St. Lucie: $38216, down from $39777, -3.9 percent
Lakeland-Winter Haven: $31951, down from $32572, -1.9 percent
North Port-Bradenton-Sarasota: $46456, down from $48713, -4.6 percent
Tallahassee: $33268, down from $33639, -1.1 percent
Jacksonville: $38801, down from $40028, -3.1 percent
Panama City-Lynn Haven-Panama City Beach: $35560, up from $35459, 0.3 percent
Naples-Marco Island: $57548, down from $62559, -8 percent
Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin, $41624, up from $41050, 1.4 percent
Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent: $33596, up from $33338, 0.8 percent
Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach: $31479, down from $32098, -1.9 percent
Punta Gorda: $34516, down from $35337, -2.3 percent
-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist