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Snapshot of Largo: valuable data, dinnertime trivia

LARGO — What do city residents do for a living?

How old are they?

Did they go to college, start new businesses or earn more than those elsewhere?

Answers to these questions and more were at the heart of an economic profile on Largo created by the city to give prospective businesses an idea of just what sorts of folks make up Largo's residential and labor force.

When supplemented with data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the report creates a picture-by-numbers of just who makes up the fabric of the community — and how Largo's population stacks up to residents elsewhere.

As for its utility to prospective developers or corporations looking to move into the city, the profile's use is clear.

"We wanted people to be able to make an apples-to-apples comparison to other areas and even in other states," said Teresa Brydon, the city's economic development manager. "Anybody who has an interest in figuring out where and how to market Largo — now they have really viable information they didn't have any prior knowledge of."

The data also may be useful for some dinnertime trivia.

Indeed, businesses and residents alike may not know things like:

• Largo has grown by at least 55 acres every year since 2007, mostly through annexations. Between 2008 and '09, Largo grew by about 1,000 residents, to 76,199, while the county's total population shrank by 3,000.

• Nearly 6 percent of city residents — 4,074 people — are over 85, while 4.3 percent are under 5 years old.

• The median age in the city is nearly 49. In all of Pinellas County, the median age is 43.

• About 47 percent of Largo residents have at least attended college, compared with the 16 percent without a high school diploma — about the same number as 20 years ago.

• Median annual household income in Largo is $38,561 — about $14,000 less than the national average.

• Of the 44,734 people employed in the city, 15,729 workers earn paychecks from the service industry, which includes positions like nursing and vehicle repair.

Largo is also slightly more diverse than it used to be. In years past, the city's white population was higher than 90 percent. As of 2008, that number had fallen to 88 percent.

Of note also is the city's growing Hispanic population. According to the American Community Survey, Largo's population was 15 percent Hispanic, compared with 7.4 percent countywide in 2009. In 1990, Largo's Hispanic population was 12 percent.

The cost of living is relatively low in Pinellas County, with a Council for Community and Economic Research composite cost of living index rating at 93.5, compared with 132.5 in Boston and 217.5 in Manhattan.

Of all the categories in the index, housing was one of Largo's strong suits, scoring 16 points below the national average on a scale of 100.

"I was very surprised and very impressed by the number of people working in Largo," said Vice Mayor Robert Murray when he saw some of the numbers at a city work session Tuesday.

Largo's unemployment rate is 10.6 percent, compared with 11.1 percent in the Tampa Bay area. In addition, 122 new businesses opened in the city in 2010.

Dominick Tao can be reached at dtao@sptimes.com or (727) 580-2951.

Snapshot of Largo: valuable data, dinnertime trivia 11/13/10 [Last modified: Saturday, November 13, 2010 3:31am]
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