Tampa Bay Rays home and adjacent counties experience large drop in bread and butter transplants from other states
- Pinellas county (St. Petersburg) -17.1
- Hillsborough (Tampa) -23.7
- Pasco -16.3
- Hernando -30.8
- Sarasota -11.2
- Lee county (Ft. Myers) -19.1
- Polk -20.7
"We've suffered more severely than the nation overall primarily because of the housing boom," said David Denslow, an economist with the University of Florida. "We had farther to fall."
How has the recession changed the Bay area? Estimates recently released by the U.S. Census Bureau let us count the ways.
- From the boom years of 2005-07 to the bust years of 2007-09:
•The number of vacant homes exploded in the aftermath of the subprime lending crisis. Pasco County, the region's epicenter of the housing crash, saw its home vacancies grow more than 35 percent, the highest rate in the region.
•The vacancy rate for rental properties grew even faster than the rate for homes, jumping by 50 percent in Hillsborough County. The change may have come from construction workers and low-wage workers abandoning apartments they filled, Denslow said.
•The number of people moving from other states — long the bread and butter of Florida's growth — dropped sharply. Sumter County, home to The Villages retirement community, led the handful of counties still luring more people during the bust than during the boom.
•The number of people on food stamps or other government assistance grew sharply, driven by formerly middle-class people who had never sought help, said Erin Gillespie, spokeswoman for the state Department of Children & Families. Hernando County led the region with a
- 70 percent increase in people getting help.
•The Mexican communities in the region's largest counties shrank, along with the construction and landscaping jobs that once drew people. Despite that,
- Hillsborough County still has the state's
- largest Mexican population:
more than 52,000, down 7 percent from the boom. By comparison, the region's other major Hispanic groups, Puerto Ricans and Cubans, grew in population across the region.
•More than two-thirds of families with small children sent both parents into the work force to make ends meet, up about 10 percent.
•Household sizes crept up, as more people shared housing with friends and relatives to cut costs. As a result, in Hillsborough County alone,
- about 50 percent more grandparents reported living with their grandchildren during the bust.
But the news isn't all gloomy.
Per-capita income remained stable despite job losses at the lower end of the pay spectrum. More people worked from home. And women found new spaces in the work force, often at higher wages than they previously received.
The recession has cost low-skilled men their jobs, but it has created openings for women, Denslow said.
"It used to be that women were the first to lose their jobs in a recession because they were in low-paid service-sector jobs," Denslow said. "We're seeing a big gain in women in the labor force now because more of them have college degrees.""
1/23/11, "Recession's grip on Bay area spelled out in census numbers," Tampa Tribune, TBO.com, Kevin Wiatrowski
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