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Older, richer, less equal: A snapshot of the Tampa Bay area

A massive survey provides a glimpse into an array of economic and social indicators.
The massive American Community Survey provides a snapshot of life in the Tampa Bay area.
Published Oct. 4

Tampa Bay area residents are earning more. We’re also getting older and too many of us don’t have health insurance.

Those were some of the findings from the annual American Community Survey, a mini census that asks 3.5 million households across the country about a broad swath of social and economic measures. The results help determine how to spend $675 billion in government funds.

The survey also provides one of the most up-to-date snapshots of the way we live — the progress and the ongoing challenges.

Below you’ll find a few nuggets pulled from the survey. They focus mainly on Florida and the Tampa Bay area, which unless otherwise noted consists of Pinellas, Pasco, Hillsborough and Hernando counties.

Incomes rising

Median household incomes in the Tampa Bay area reached $54,912 last year, which means half made more than that and half made less. That’s a significant $2,700 jump from a year earlier, but the area remains well behind the nation and many of its peer cities, even those with a similar cost of living.

Low pay remains a challenge in attracting and keeping talented workers, though it has helped lure companies looking for a low-wage workforce.

Median household income

United States: $61,937

Florida: $55,642

Maryland (highest): $83,242

West Virginia (lowest): $44,097

Tampa Bay area

All: $54,912

White: $56,712

Hispanic: $47,337

Black: $41,612

Asian: $75,547

By age group

Under 25 years: $34,391

24 to 44 years: $62,476

45 to 64 years: $66,305

65 and over: $39,816

The Tampa Bay area has 1.23 million households. Almost 264,000 make less than $25,000, according to the survey. About 195,000 earn more than $125,000.

Money and birthplace

People born in Florida who still live in the state tend to make less money than those who moved here. These figures are for individual income, which are lower than household income.

Born in Florida: $25,671

Born in another state: $31,503

Foreign born: $24,854

Commuting and pay

How people get to work in the Tampa Bay area is an indication of how much they get paid. (By individual annual income.)

Vehicle (alone): $37,233

Carpool: $27,803

Public transit: $18,070

Walk: $15,749

Taxi, bike, motorbike and other: $27,486

Work at home: $45,113

RELATED STORY: Get used to long commute times, Tampa Bay.

Income inequality

Income inequality in the United States grew from 2017 to 2018 and hit record levels, according to 50 years of survey data.

The Gini Index reached 0.485. The index uses a zero to 1 scale, with a zero being perfect equality. A score of 1 means absolute inequality, with one person earning all the income while everyone else earns nothing.

Florida scored a bit higher than the nation; the Tampa Bay area a bit lower. Both have risen since 2010.

The unfathomably rich are getting richer, which helps increase the gap between the haves and have nots. But some experts say demographics play an important role, in particular, the incomes of baby boomers versus millennials.

Boomers are closer to the peak of their earning power. Millennials, especially the ones still in their 20s, are closer to the start of their careers. And many older millennials got a slow start thanks to coming of age after the Great Recession.

Millennials should earn more as they reach their 40s and 50s, but in the meantime, their comparatively low incomes increase inequality, according to the theory.

RELATED STORY: The economy is doing well. Why do so many people feel left out.

Computers and broadband access

More Tampa Bay area households have computers and broadband internet access than five years ago. African-American households started to close the gap on white households, though they remain behind.

Broadband helps residents connect with social, government and educational programs and makes it easier to apply for jobs. It also makes it easier to access banks and to fully participate in a modern economy.

Access to a household computer


2018: 96 percent

2013: 89 percent


2018: 93 percent

2013: 80 percent

Access to household broadband


2018: 90 percent

2013: 82 percent


2018: 82 percent

2013: 68 percent

Health insurance

Thirteen percent of Florida residents didn’t have health insurance last year. Only three other states had more uninsured — Texas (17.7 percent), Oklahoma (14.2 percent) and Georgia (13.7 percent).

Of the insured in Florida, about 63 percent have private insurance while 37 percent are on a public program including Medicare.

Older and bigger

The state’s ever-increasing population has helped bolster the economy and gloss over some of our weaknesses. Last year, Florida added another 400,000 residents. At 21.3 million people, the state remain the third-largest in the country.

The Tampa Bay metro area grew to 3.14 million, up from 3.09 million. All of the counties in the greater Tampa Bay area added residents over the last year and since 2010.

Florida’s median age is 42.2, up by about a 1½ years since 2010. Floridians are about four years older than the nation as a whole, though we aren’t the oldest. That distinction goes to Maine with a median age that tops 45 years.

The median age in the Tampa Bay area rose from 41.3 to 42.3 over that time.


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