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Quality fo Life Index // OUR TIMES AS TOLD BY STATISTICS

Percentage decrease in retail sales from last year during the first 24 days of the Christmas season in Tampa: 2.2.

Percentage decrease in retail sales from last year during the same period in Orlando: 7.4.

Percentage decrease in retail sales nationally from last year: 6.2.

Rank of the Tampa area among the nation's top markets for spending on advertising: 18.

Amount of money spent in the Tampa market on all forms of advertising in 1994: $3.2-billion.

Average number of books per student in Hillsborough County's elementary school libraries last school year: 11.3.

Average annual allocation for library books, per elementary school student: $1.65.

Average cost per book in elementary school libraries: $18.

Percentage of Hispanic immigrants in Hillsborough County who hail from Cuba: 29.

Percentage of those who hail from South America or Spain: 28.

Percentage from Puerto Rico: 26.

Percentage from Mexico: 9.

Percentage from Central America: 4.

Compiled with contributions from BARBARA HIJEK, STEPHEN HEGARTY and LARRY DOUGHERTY.

Quality of life source

Retail sales: TeleCheck Services Inc., as reported by Business Wire Inc. The figures are based on a year-over-year, same-store comparison of the dollar volume of authorized checks written by consumers at more than 25,000 stores that subscribe to TeleCheck.

Advertising: American Demographics.

Library books: Hillsborough County School Board.

Country of origin: Hillsborough County Needs Assessment. Hillsborough County now has the second-largest Hispanic population in Florida, totaling 145,200 in 1994.

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