How Tampa Bay stacks up to comparable regions

The first-ever Tampa Bay Partnership’s Regional Competitiveness Report compares the economic performance of the Gulf Coast economy to other comparable regions nationwide.

It puts eight counties on the west coast of Florida — Citrus, Hernando, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk and Sarasota — up against 19 of the fastest-growing micro-economies in the nation, including Atlanta, Dallas and Seattle. Broadly, the report rates Tampa Bay in six dimensions: economic vitality; innovation; infrastructure; civic quality; talent; and outcomes.

The good news on employment is Tampa Bay is adding jobs at a rapid pace relative to comparable economies, the report found. And its productivity in advanced industries (such as computer systems design, from a list created by the Brookings Institution) is showing strong growth as well. The downside there: Tampa Bay incomes are low relative to other fast-growing regions.

Even so, people want to be in the region. The Competitiveness Report measures net migration rates for the 20 different regions, and while Baltimore and St. Louis, for example, are actually losing residents, Austin, Orlando, and Tampa Bay are gaining at around 2%.

The region’s biggest challenge, according to the report, is in attracting and developing talent. “If the region wants higher-wage, higher-skilled jobs, it will need a strategy to develop, retain and attract the educated workforce that these jobs demand,” the report states. An issue there is in education, given only 27.7% of Tampa Bay’s population age 25 and up hold at least a bachelor’s — worst among all metros considered for the analysis.

The Tampa Bay Partnership compiled the 2018 Regional Competitiveness Report in collaboration with the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay and the United Way Suncoast.  The report uses the most recent state and federal data available.

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