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Post-recession Florida ranks among more expensive states

It's no surprise that Washington, D.C., Hawaii and New York continue to rank among the most expensive places to live.

But Florida's once-ingrained reputation as a cheap state — comparatively speaking — is taking a hit.

It costs less to live in 33 states other than in Florida based on the latest analysis from the U.S. Department of Commerce. Snowbird states like Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Pennsylvania all rank as more affordable.

Florida tied with Oregon as 16th on the department's affordability index, released Thursday in tandem with new personal income data. The new comparison tool, dubbed Regional Price Parities, measure the state-by-state differences in the price levels in a given year for goods and services such as food, energy and housing.

"For the first time, Americans looking to move or take a job anywhere in the country can compare inflation-adjusted incomes across states and metropolitan areas to better understand how their personal income may be affected by a job change or move," U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker said in a statement. "Businesses considering relocating or establishing new plants also now have a comprehensive and consistent measure of differences in the cost of living and the purchasing power of consumers nationwide."

The index expresses costs in an area as a percentage of the overall national price level for each year, which is set at 100.

The most expensive locale, Washington, D.C., had an index rating of 118.2; the least expensive state, Mississippi, stood at 86.4. Florida came in just under the national baseline at 98.8.

Sean Snaith, an economist with the University of Central Florida, said Florida's evolution into a higher-cost state is to be expected as migration here continues.

"One of the things that comes along with the economy growing … is a higher cost of living. That's why it's more expensive to live in Manhattan than Des Moines," he said.

"The recession aside, Florida had been on a pretty steady growth trajectory. And it looks like we're back on it."

On the income side of the equation, meanwhile, the Commerce Department served up a mixed report for Florida.

Florida can tout that total personal income rose 2.5 percent in 2012, faster than the national average of 2.1 percent. But that's only because of a surge in the state's population.

Per-capita income statewide was up a more modest 1.2 percent between 2011 and 2012 — from $38,736 to $39,225.

Growth in real state personal income from 2011 to 2012 ranged from a 1.2 percent drop in South Dakota to a 15.1 percent jump in North Dakota.

Most expensive

1. Washington, D.C.

2. Hawaii

3. New York

Least expensive

1. Mississippi

2. Arkansas

3. Alabama

Source: U.S. Department of Commerce Regional Price Parity Index

Post-recession Florida ranks among more expensive states 04/24/14 [Last modified: Thursday, April 24, 2014 7:26pm]
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