1. Business

Track quality of life numbers on the Florida Scorecard

The home page of the Florida Scorecard, which tracks Florida’s progress in dozens of different categories. (Courtesy of the Florida Chamber Foundation)
Published Apr. 26

Florida home prices are up, unemployment is down and consumers are very confident.

But did you know that only 57 percent of the state's third-graders read at grade level? Or that more than 75,000 Florida children are homeless? Or that Florida ranks dead last in volunteerism?

Those are among the dozens of metrics that show how well — or not so well — Florida does at providing a high quality of life for its 21.5 million people. You can find them all on Florida Scorecard, a free online service of the Florida Chamber Foundation, the non-profit arm of the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber's CEO, Mark Wilson, "wanted something for everybody in the state of Florida to be able to track our progress and see how we're doing,'' says Jerry D. Parrish, the foundation's chief economist and research director.

Parrish and his colleagues update the scorecard almost as fast as new figures come in. The tiles, or categories, are color-coded — green means Florida is improving in that category, red means it's declining. (You can click on some tiles to get stats for individual counties.) The scorecard also shows how things stand today relative to the 39 goals for the future set out in the chamber's Florida 2030 Project. While 22.3 percent of Florida kids now live in poverty, the goal is to reduce that to 10 percent by 2030.

There are some nifty facts, too. Who knew that people moving to Pinellas County from the Chicago area have added nearly $293 million to the county's wealth since 1992?

The Tampa Bay Times recently spoke with Parrish, 58, a North Carolina native who joined the foundation in 2014 after serving as the chief economist of Florida TaxWatch.

Q. This scorecard is handy — it's sort of one-stop shopping for all those statistics you can never put your hands on when you need them. But why isn't there a link from the chamber's home page?

A. We don't brand with the Florida chamber because maybe people don't like (the chamber) for some reason. The scorecard is its own separate entity, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and we want people to use it. We promote it a lot — Mark Wilson and I speak all over the state — so we have thousands of regular users and it's growing as more people get exposed to it.

Q. What are some indicators that you consider particularly important?

A. A lot of them are indicators for the future. We had a slight decrease last year in third-grade reading scores. That's when kids typically go from learning to read to reading to learn, so that's a really good indicator of future high school graduation rates and other things that are important to Florida's economy. Our goal is having 100 percent of third-graders reading at grade level by 2030.

Q. Do you ever add categories?

A. We just created an index not long ago that talks about homeowner insurance affordability — it's under "business climate and competitiveness'' — that ranks Florida counties 1 to 67 on how affordable they are relative to income. One of the things that drives up our insurance rates is assignment of benefits (when people sign over their insurance rights to a third party like a contractor, repair firm or attorney). That's been a very popular topic up here in Tallahassee and we want people to know where their county ranks in terms of affordability.

Q. Any other another nifty features?

A. One of the cool things that a lot of people have commented on is our live population counter on the front page. It will change as you look at it — 900 net new people a day are moving to the state. On every single county there's a little blue button called FutureCast. If you click on that, it will give the current population, the estimate of your population in 2030 and the number of net new jobs your county needs to create by 2020 and 2030. That's what we like county commissions and county economic development agencies and chambers to key on. Let's track our progress on that.

Q. The Florida Scorecard shows a 20.8 percent chance of a recession in the next nine months. Should we be worried about that figure?

A. It started out in January of 2018 at 9 percent, so it's more than double. However, that is still not a big probability but this is something that every individual and business can check and see the trend. I feel fairly confident that we can forecast the next recession for the state of Florida. That's what this model is for.

Contact Susan Taylor Martin at or (727) 893-8642. Follow @susanskate.


  1. Job applicants seek information about temporary positions available with the 2020 Census, during a job fair in Miami on Wednesday designed for people fifty years or older. LYNNE SLADKY  |  AP
    The state added 22,500 jobs in August.
  2. Homeowner Cheryl Murdoch, 59, explains the workings of the Philips Smart Mirror in her bathroom. Murdoch and her husband live in the Epperson neighborhood in Wesley Chapel, home of the Crystal Lagoon, where some residents are piloting new health technologies inside their homes. SCOTT KEELER  |   Times
    In Pasco’s Crystal Lagoon community, AdventHealth and Metro Development Group are testing in-home technology aimed at keeping people away from the hospital.
  3. A company called Flock Safety is selling automatic license plate readers to neighborhood associations to cut down on crime, and Tampa neighborhood Paddock Oaks is one of their customers. Pictured is a Flock camera on Paddock Oaks Dr. | [Luis Santana | Times] LUIS SANTANA  |  Times
    Atlanta-based Flock Safety has provided 14 area communities with high-speed, high-definition cameras for surveillance.
  4. An American Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft approaches Miami International Airport for landing in March. Bloomberg
    The 60-year-old veteran airline employee told investigators he was upset that union contract negotiations had stalled.
  5. Lilly Beth Rodriguez, left, Laura Robertson and Linda Lamont work on a Habitat for Humanity house in north Pasco. [Times (2013)]
    The increase is expected to happen in the first half of next year. CEO hopes other nonprofits follow suit.
  6. The number of single-family homes sold in the Tampa Bay area during August rose 2.8 percent when compared with the same month last year, according to a monthly report from Florida Realtors. (Times file photo)
    The midpoint price in the bay area rose to $250,000, which is still lower than the state and national median prices.
  7. The Aldi store located on 1551 34th St N, St. Petersburg, Florida in 2018, features its updated layout. JONES, OCTAVIO   |  Tampa Bay Times
    The store will re-open after renovations on Thursday, Sept. 26
  8. Jessica LaBouve, a penetration tester for cybersecurity company A-LIGN, poses for a portrait in the A-LIGN office on Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019 in Tampa. Companies hire A-LIGN to figure out where their digital security weak spots are, and LaBouve is one of the "benevolent hackers" that finds them. ALLIE GOULDING  |  Times
    Jessica LaBouve of A-LIGN works with companies to make their applications and platforms more secure.
  9. Stephen A. Schwarzman, CEO of the Blackstone Group, speaks at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, earlier this year. MARKUS SCHREIBER  |  AP
    The billionaire also talks trade with China in an interview with the Tampa Bay Times.
  10. The economies of Canada and Florida go together like, well, palm fronds and maple leaves, as seen outside the Sweetwater RV Resort in Zephyrhills. (Times file photo) KATE CALDWELL  |  Tampa Bay Times
    To qualify under the proposed Canadian Snowbirds Act, visitors would have to be older than 50 and would have to own or rent a home here.