Thursday, September 20, 2018
Business

If you live in this Florida county, your earnings go further

We should all be lucky enough to live in St. Johns County.

Not for its cool beach towns or world-class golf. Not even for easy access to venerable St. Augustine.

No, we should go for the money.

For the fourth consecutive year, St. Johns residents ranked No. 1 in the state for purchasing power, according to a recent report from SmartAsset.

The financial technology company looked at every county in the country and compared the cost of living to the median income.

CONSUMER: Following Simply Orange, Tropicana shrank the size of its orange juice containers.

In St. Johns, a single adult with no kids spent a relatively high $37,256 on basic living expenses, including food, clothing, housing, transportation and health care, according to the analysis. But with a median income of $69,523 — by far the highest in the state — residents had more than $32,000 left over, vaulting St. Johns to No. 1, well ahead of second-place Nassau County.

St. Johns benefits from a steady stream of tourists and residents who earn high salaries in nearby Jacksonville. In fact, it ranked in the top 30 in the nation for purchasing power, out of more than 3,100 counties.

Our Tampa Bay counties were more middle of the pack.

With a median income of $51,681, the typical Hillsborough resident had more than $15,000 left over after subtracting the basic cost of living. That ranked it 20th out of Florida’s 67 counties. Not bad, though the county has slipped down from fourth in 2015.

Pinellas (No. 26) and Pasco (No. 31) had lower costs of living compared to Hillsborough, but also lower median incomes. Hernando and Citrus, which both ranked in the low 40s, were hurt by much lower income levels. The typical Citrus resident, for instance, earned just $39,054.

It doesn’t cost much to live in many of Florida’s rural counties, but earnings were low, too. Madison County, on the border with Georgia, had the fifth-lowest cost of living in the country. Its median income, however, was so low that it still ranked near the bottom in purchasing power.

MORE BUSINESS: Florida construction projects slowed by lack of enough skilled workers.

Mid-sized coastal counties like St. Johns generally scored better than their smaller inland neighbors, especially those home to low-paying agricultural jobs.

Case in point: Putnam County, which borders St. Johns to the west, had the state’s lowest purchasing power, hurt by the state’s second-lowest median income. The county ranked near the bottom in the nation.

Putnam’s 5.6 percent unemployment rate in July was among the highest in the state. At 3 percent, St. Johns tied for lowest with Okaloosa.

In addition, a lower percentage of Putnam residents work or were looking for work. And despite having less than a third of St, Johns’ population, Putnam had more residents on federal disability benefits.

Those factors all affect overall earnings, and they are hard to remedy.

Nationally, Williamson County, south of Nashville, Tenn., ranked No. 1. Its $100,140 median income easily trumped a relatively high $47,227 cost of living.

States with a lots of counties with high purchasing power include Wyoming, Nevada, Utah, North and South Dakota, New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts. Texas, however, dominated, with five counties ranked among the top 10 in the nation.

At the other end, Mississippi, Alabama and Kentucky all had many counties with little purchasing power.

McCreary County, in southeast Kentucky, ranked last, with a median income less than $19,000 and a cost of living of $29,428.

RELATED: More business news

Contact Graham Brink at [email protected] Follow @GrahamBrink.

Comments
St. Pete approves biggest budget in city history: $717 million

St. Pete approves biggest budget in city history: $717 million

ST. PETERSBURG — The City Council blessed the largest budget in city history on Thursday night, adopting a $717 million budget that starts Oct. 1.The 2019 budget is about $200 million more than the current budget. That massive increase was driven by ...
Updated: 14 minutes ago
Marijuana use is now as common among baby boomers as it is among teens, federal data show

Marijuana use is now as common among baby boomers as it is among teens, federal data show

Talk to your grandparents about marijuana - before somebody else does.The latest release of a massive federal drug use survey shows monthly marijuana use has skyrocketed among older Americans. The past decade, in fact, has seen a sea change in the de...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Former Tampa Bay exec and Chico’s CEO Shelley Broader discusses changing retail in St. Pete visit

Former Tampa Bay exec and Chico’s CEO Shelley Broader discusses changing retail in St. Pete visit

ST. PETERSBURG — When Shelley Broader worked in Tampa Bay, she was turning around a failing grocery store.It was the early 2000s. Amazon wasn’t a powerhouse yet, people were still on Myspace and no one was ordering groceries online. On Thursday, she ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Tampa Bay’s fastest selling used car is a Prius. Do you drive the slowest selling car?

Tampa Bay’s fastest selling used car is a Prius. Do you drive the slowest selling car?

Apparently, a lot of people in Tampa Bay are trying to get their hands on a Toyota Prius. An analysis by iSeeCars shows that the eco-friendly car is the fastest-selling used vehicle in the area, averaging 19.2 days on the market. That might not be su...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Cargill recalls more beef on E.coli worries from Colorado plant tied to previous recall

Cargill recalls more beef on E.coli worries from Colorado plant tied to previous recall

Cargill Inc. is recalling more than 132,600 pounds of ground beef possibly contaminated with harmful E. coli bacteria that food-safety investigators believe has already caused 17 illnesses and one death.The beef originated at a Cargill slaughterhouse...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Colorado-based alternative fuel company to hire 45 at new $10 million factory in Plant City

Colorado-based alternative fuel company to hire 45 at new $10 million factory in Plant City

PLANT CITY — Alternative fuel firm MLMC Florida will open a $10 million factory near the Hillsborough-Polk county line and will create 45 new jobs paying an average salary of at least $58,383 a year, officials said Thursday.Based in Parker, Colo., ML...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Publix has pumpkin spice everything on sale, and other deals this week in coupons (Sept. 20-26)

Publix has pumpkin spice everything on sale, and other deals this week in coupons (Sept. 20-26)

Sometimes, the coupon gods align. And, man, that’s beautiful because everyone loves so-cheap-it’s-almost-free stuff.Vegetarians rejoice: This week’s steal of a deal is for you. Publix has Quorn "chick’n" nuggets and patties on BOGO (buy one, get one)...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Homes sales jump in Pinellas and Hillsborough in August after months of declines

Homes sales jump in Pinellas and Hillsborough in August after months of declines

Home sales in August hit their highest levels in a year in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties as prices throughout the Tampa Bay area continued to rise. In Pinellas, sales of single-family homes jumped nearly 7 percent from the same month a year ago....
Updated: 10 hours ago
Floridan hotel misses deadline, faces hearing on repairs to keep more concrete from falling

Floridan hotel misses deadline, faces hearing on repairs to keep more concrete from falling

TAMPA — When a chunk of concrete fell off the Floridan Palace Hotel last month, injuring a woman who was struck by debris, city officials gave the historic building’s owners a deadline to submit an engineering report and make repairs.That deadline ca...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Too many homeowners forced to tap home equity to pay for day-to-day expenses

Too many homeowners forced to tap home equity to pay for day-to-day expenses

Tapping home equity to pay for day-to-day expenses like groceries and utilities is a recipe for financial peril. It can work for a while, especially if home prices are rising. Eventually the spigot runs dry, bills pile up and your home can be lost to...
Published: 09/19/18
Updated: 09/20/18