Make us your home page
Instagram

After years in doldrums, Florida's sense of well-being is soaring among states

Pirates from Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla are seen aboard the Jose Gasparilla for the annual Gasparilla Invasion a week ago. A Gallup survey ranked Tampa Bay second in the "social" category, one reason it has risen considerably in a state-by-state ranking of "well-being."
[CHRIS URSO   |   Times]


Pirates from Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla are seen aboard the Jose Gasparilla for the annual Gasparilla Invasion a week ago. A Gallup survey ranked Tampa Bay second in the "social" category, one reason it has risen considerably in a state-by-state ranking of "well-being." [CHRIS URSO | Times]

What might be the best indicator yet in 2017 that Florida is rising fast when compared to other states?

It's not unemployment rate. Florida's jobless rate is 4.9 percent, a bit above the national 4.7 percent rate. It's not state GDP. Florida's growth rate in real gross domestic product, 3.6 percent, most recently ranked 29th among states. Nor is it household income. Florida still ranks poorly among states on that count.

The answer is "well-being." That sounds new-age vague but stick with me. The Gallup polling organization annually measures each state for well-being, composed of a broad gauge of five factors: life purpose, social engagement, financial security, sense of community and physical health. In order, these factors help measure whether people approach their lives with goals in mind; whether they have supportive relationships; manage their financial life to minimize stress; like where they live and feel safe and, finally, experience good health.

The bad news is Florida did not crack the top ten states for well-being in Gallup's new survey. Hawaii once again took the top slot in the survey, followed by Alaska and, yes, South Dakota. In fact seven of the top ten states are western states.

The good news is Florida's been rising quickly over the past six years. That upswing makes it one of the few U.S. states marking bold gains in well-being in a country where the standings of many states change little over the years.

In the latest Gallup "State of American Well-Being" survey, Florida ranked 11th, inches behind Texas at No. 10. What is so striking is that Florida ranked 42nd in this same poll in 2011, meaning the Sunshine State has leapfrogged 31 other states in the past six years. A pretty dazzling accomplishment.

"Florida bucks the low well-being trend in the South, ranking among the top 12 states in well-being for the second year in a row," Gallup stated.

What on earth does a "well-being" ranking have to do with the Florida economy or the business community? Everything.

Consider these annual Gallup "well-being" assessments by a different name: Quality of life.

That's a phrase I hear almost every day in meetings with business leaders, economic development officials, entrepreneurs, small business owners, mayors and the broader working population of Tampa Bay.

Sure, living in Florida has its warts. The schools are still mediocre. Wages are too low. Career opportunities are still too thin. The state leadership too often seems simple-minded and focused on petty issues. Housing prices are outstripping the ability of many residents to afford a home. Traffic can be nasty.

But no place is ideal. Listen carefully to those who have moved here from another state. They say the weather was lousy. State taxes were too high. People are leaving. And Florida, you just don't know how bad traffic can be up north.

I happened to speak with an ex-Wall Streeter this past week named Gerry Coughlin who was recruited here from up north to work in money management for Jeff Vinik. When that ended Coughlin set up his own financial business in downtown Tampa (which Vinik recently invested in). Now Coughlin calls himself a "converted Tampanian" and wants to pitch this area's quality of life — there's that phrase again — to his former Wall Street peers.

I hear versions of this story often.

When companies consider relocating or expanding, they investigate states and metro areas for a few key attributes.

Is this a place company workers will want to live, build their careers and grow families? Is there a quality workforce there from which to hire talented people? Is the cost of living and running a business reasonable? Is there decent mass transit so employees can get to work? And (wait for it) is the quality of life — the natural surroundings, the beaches and water, the weather, the culture (from museums to music), variety of entertainment (including sports teams) — worthy of investing in as the next corporate expansion?

So what's changed? Why is Florida rising faster in the well-being ranks than most states?

In the latest data, Florida ranked an impressive 2nd, 6th and 8th among states in the categories of "social," "purpose" in life and "physical" health.

Where Florida still lags is in the "financial" category, ranking 34th — suggesting people in this state are still stressing over making ends meet — and finally ranking a middle-of-the-pack 24th in the category of "community" (liking or taking pride in where you live).

We ain't perfect. Even No. 1 Hawaii can suffer island fever at times.

But in terms of well-being, Florida's on an upswing. Well done.

Contact Robert Trigaux at rtrigaux@tampabay.com. Follow @venturetampabay.

How Florida is soaring in 'Well-Being' rankings

Gallup ranks the states for well-being or quality of life issues each year. Here's how Florida has fared since the great recession.

Year Rank among 50 states

2008 29

2009 36

2010 37

2011 42

2012 34

2013 30

2014 28

2015 12

2016* 11

* Virtual tie with No. 10 Texas

***

Top 5 states in well-being: (1) Hawaii, (2) Alaska, (3) South Dakota, (4) Maine, (5) Colorado.

Worst ranked states: (46) Arkansas, (47) Indiana, (48) Oklahoma, (49) Kentucky, (50) West Virginia.

Source: Gallup Healthways "State of American Well-Being" released January 2017.

After years in doldrums, Florida's sense of well-being is soaring among states 02/03/17 [Last modified: Friday, February 3, 2017 12:23pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Sign up for our new daily News at Noon email newsletter

    News

    The Tampa Bay Times will soon launch a daily newsletter called News at Noon. You can make sure to be among the first to receive it by signing up now.

  2. Bitcoin, ransomware fraudster Anthony Murgio of Tampa sentenced to prison

    Business

    Tampa's Anthony Murgio, 33, was sentenced Tuesday to 5-1/2 years in prison for running a bitcoin exchange suspected of laundering money for a group of hackers who targeted publishing and financial firms as part of a complex securities fraud.

    Anthony Murgio of Tampa, 33, was sentenced Tuesday to 5 1/2 years in prison for running a Bitcoin exchange suspected of laundering money for a group of hackers who targeted publishing and financial firms as part of a complex securities fraud. [AP photo]
  3. Airbnb on track to shatter tax revenues brought in last year

    Business

    Airbnb has collected more than $18 million in taxes for Florida state and local governments so far this year, putting it on a fast-track to shatter its 2016 tax collection of $20 million.

    Airbnb has collected more than $18 million in taxes for Florida state and local governments so far this year, putting it on a fast-track to shatter its 2016 tax collection of $20 million.
[Bloomberg file photo]

  4. Tampa Bay Times honored for top investigative story in Gerald Loeb annual business awards

    Business

    The Tampa Bay Times was a co-winner in the investigative category for one of the highest honors in business journalism.

    Tampa Bay Times current and former staff writers William R. Levesque, Nathaniel Lash and Anthony Cormier were honored in the investigative category for their coverage of "Allegiant Air" in the 60th Anniversary Gerald Loeb Awards for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism. 
[JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times

]

  5. Strategic Property Partners launches website for Water Street Tampa

    Business

    Strategic Property Partners has launched its official website for Water Street Tampa, its 53-acre redevelopment project in downtown Tampa Tuesday.

    Strategic Property Partners on Tuesday announced the name of its new development: Water Street Tampa. [Photos courtesy of SPP]