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Bay area's economy looks healthy in rearview mirror

Last year turned out to be a pretty good year for Florida families. Too bad it's over.

The Census Bureau said median household income rose and poverty rates fell in the Tampa Bay area and statewide during 2007. From today's perspective of high unemployment and low consumer confidence, it's easy to forget how good things used to be. Last year, household incomes rose 6.6 percent in the Tampa Bay area and 5.1 percent statewide.

"It's a glance in the rearview mirror," said University of Central Florida economist Sean Snaith.

The housing boom gave incomes a boost, and the bust has been bringing them down. "We're going to move from the head of the class to the back of the class next year," Snaith said.

In the case of Hernando County, the bureau's numbers are suspect because they make things look so dramatically rosier. They show the poverty rate for children in Hernando County falling from 22.2 percent in 2006 to 6.7 percent in 2007.

"I wish I could believe that, but I doubt that it's changed much," said David Miles, a demographic specialist in the Hernando County Planning Department. "I just think it's a data error."

Nationally , the Census Bureau reported household income rose slightly to $50,233, the poverty rate held steady at 12.5 percent, and the number of uninsured dropped from 47-million to 45.7-million, representing 15.3 percent of the population.

The numbers show Americans were better off in 2007 than in 2006, but about the same as in 2000, adjusted for inflation.

Some highlights from the 2007 report:

• Women's full-time earnings were 78 percent of what men earned, but that's an all-time high.

• African-American households had 38 percent less income than non-Hispanic white households.

• The decline in the percentage of uninsured was largely due to an increase in those covered by government health care programs as private insurance coverage continued to shrink.

Helen Huntley can be reached at hhuntley@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8230.

Household income and poverty rates

Region Household income 2007 % change % below
poverty level
% change
Citrus $35,810 + 2.4% 11.8% + 1.1%
Hernando $44,172 + 9.5% 7.1% – 42.7%
Hillsborough $50,572 + 8.1% 11.5% – 10.1%
Pasco $44,526 + 6.2% 12.2% + 23.2%
Pinellas $44,292 + 5.6% 11.2% – 8.9%
Tampa Bay $46,607 + 6.6% 11.3% – 6.6%
Florida $47,804 + 5.1% 12.1% – 4%

Changes are from 2006, not adjusted for inflation

Bay area's economy looks healthy in rearview mirror 08/26/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 27, 2008 12:55pm]
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