Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Business

Tampa Bay posts biggest improvement nationwide in Consumer Distress Index

Tampa Bay is still clustered among the most financially distressed major metros in the country. But cheer up: Consumers here are healing at a faster pace than anywhere else.

In fact, out of the country's 30 biggest metros, Tampa Bay was one of just three to post better scores than last time in the Consumer Distress Index being released today by credit counseling agency CredAbility. And the other two metros on an upward swing, Orlando and Detroit, improved only marginally compared with a noticeable boost for Tampa Bay.

A year ago, CredAbility placed the bay area in the "emergency crisis" category, which signifies a tipping point when a significant number of households struggle to pay for basic needs like food and housing. Now, Tampa Bay has moved up a notch and is in the middle of the "distressed unstable" range.

With an index number of 64.1, the region still needs to improve considerably — surpassing 70 — to break into the low range of what's considered healthy. The U.S. index, by comparison, fell to 70.7 for the quarter, barely above the distress cutoff.

The biggest problem pushing down the national index — and most of the big metros — are strained household budgets because of higher payroll taxes that went into effect in January and federal budget cuts.

"The fact Tampa Bay could have gains in employment and housing that more than offset that (payroll tax cut) shows the strength of your local economy," said CredAbility spokesman Scott Scredon.

Tampa Bay added 35,900 new jobs over the year, helping push its unemployment down from 9.1 percent to 6.9 percent, the single-biggest plunge among top metros. The region's housing market remains troubled, but it is improving quickly with the mortgage delinquency rate dropping from 12.1 percent to 10.7 percent in just one quarter.

If the trend continues, the bay area has "a good chance" to climb out of the distressed level over the next year, said Broc Rosser, Florida regional president for CredAbility.

A year ago, Tampa Bay ranked as the most stressed-out metro in the country based on measures like housing woes, unemployment, credit, household budget and net worth. In CredAbility's first-quarter update, the bay area now ranks as third most-stressed, trailing only Orlando and Riverside-San Bernardino, Calif.

On the national level, Florida was the only state to eke out a gain during the quarter, thanks to drops in both the unemployment rate and mortgage delinquency rates.

By its nature, the index is backward-looking. But Rosser and Scredon point to one sign that the upswing will continue: demand is picking up strongly for their credit counseling classes geared to first-time home buyers.

Jeff Harrington can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8242.

Comments
Three things to watch for at the Federal Reserve meeting today

Three things to watch for at the Federal Reserve meeting today

WASHINGTON — On the day when Janet Yellen will hold her final news conference as Federal Reserve chair, the Fed has left little doubt what it plans to do Wednesday: Raise its benchmark interest rate for the third time this year. The increase would be...
Updated: 18 minutes ago
Picturing something different: St. Petersburg man finds second career as photographer

Picturing something different: St. Petersburg man finds second career as photographer

A chance meeting during a really tough time in Rossie Newson’s life resulted in him finding a talent he never knew he had. After leaving his job as an illustrator at the Tampa Bay Times in 2009, Newson devoted most of his time and energy to his fathe...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Flipping homes for big profits is getting harder in Tampa Bay

Flipping homes for big profits is getting harder in Tampa Bay

Michael Sadeghpour was just 18 when he did his first flip.Using money saved from a job and borrowed from his grandmother, he bought a foreclosed condo in north Pinellas County for $67,000. He did some inexpensive renovations and flipped it for $125,0...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Wee Gallery entrepreneurs turned black-and-white baby mural into thriving business

Wee Gallery entrepreneurs turned black-and-white baby mural into thriving business

When Surya Sajnani and Dave Pinto were expecting their first child in 2002, she painted a mural with black and white zebras on one wall of the nursery. The couple had read that a baby’s eyes are stimulated by repeating patterns of black and white. "I...
Published: 12/13/17
Vendors and shoppers pack Airport Farmers & Flea Market for holiday season

Vendors and shoppers pack Airport Farmers & Flea Market for holiday season

BROOKSVILLE — With 300 to 400 vendors packing the Airport Farmers & Flea Market on recent weekends, controlled chaos has been the order of the day for Dorri Spoto, who manages the 16-acre site with her husband, Joe Spoto."It’s quite hustle and bustle...
Published: 12/13/17
Career Q&A: Two bosses who don’t care for each other

Career Q&A: Two bosses who don’t care for each other

Q: I seem to be caught between two high-level managers who really don’t like each other. One is a director, the other is a vice president, and I am an assistant to both. Whenever the director stops by my desk to chat, she makes critical remarks about...
Published: 12/12/17
Nicko’s Fine Foods, classic diner and Seminole Heights icon, closes after six decades

Nicko’s Fine Foods, classic diner and Seminole Heights icon, closes after six decades

Nicko’s Fine Foods, known as the place Elvis Presley ate following a 1956 concert and Tampa’s last classic prefabricated diner, has shut down after more than 60 years in business.Owners Karen and Nicholas Liakos could not be reached for comment, but ...
Published: 12/12/17
Ex-Facebook VP: Social media destroying society with ‘dopamine-driven feedback loops’

Ex-Facebook VP: Social media destroying society with ‘dopamine-driven feedback loops’

Washington PostA former Facebook executive is making waves after he spoke out about his "tremendous guilt" over growing the social network, which he feels has eroded "the core foundations of how people behave by and between each other."Chamath Paliha...
Published: 12/12/17
Illegal card skimmer discoveries in Tampa Bay double in 2017

Illegal card skimmer discoveries in Tampa Bay double in 2017

State investigators have discovered more than double the number of credit card skimmers in the Tampa Bay area in 2017 than in 2016 — with still a few weeks left in the year. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services found 54 skimmer...
Published: 12/12/17
French group to take over Westfield malls for $15.7 billion

French group to take over Westfield malls for $15.7 billion

Three Tampa Bay malls may soon be under new management. French real estate company Unibail-Rodamco has agreed to buy Australia-based shopping mall operator Westfield Corp. for $15.7 billion in cash and shares."Westfield would arguably be the best or ...
Published: 12/12/17