Pasco County compares well when it comes to growth in its gross domestic product (GDP) and in the cost of its houses, but not as well when it comes to its household income and the educational level of its workforce.
Those were among highlights shared by Zachary A. Smith, an assistant professor of economics and finance at Saint Leo University, during an economics luncheon hosted by the Pasco Economic Development Council Inc.
Smith’s analysis made comparisons between national, regional, statewide and local factors that affect the economy.
He presented some of his key findings at a luncheon gathering on Jan. 19 at Heritage Springs Country Club in Trinity. The event attracted a wide range of business executives, entrepreneurs, government leaders, elected officials and others.
Pasco’s GDP grew by 45% from 2010 to 2021, outpacing other Florida counties that, on average, grew by 33%, Smith said. The pace of GDP growth put Pasco among the top 10 in the state, he added.
Smith did a comparison of Pasco against this sample cluster of counties: Alachua, Leon, Manatee, Okaloosa and Volusia.
“Pasco County is the fastest-growing group in the comparison group,” he said. However, he added, the county could improve in both high school and bachelor’s degree completion rates.
Details in his report showed that slightly more than 90% of Pasco residents have a high school diploma, while slightly more than 26% have a bachelor’s degree or higher.
Pasco’s per capita income of $50,479 is also less than the state average of $62,270, according to Smith’s report.
The report also notes that Pasco’s population includes about 5% more retirement-aged people than the national average.
Smith also observed that Pasco County depends less on government expenditures than other Florida counties.
“If we’re relying less on government expenditure and more on private industry, that’s a good thing, to me,” Smith said.
“Pasco County seems to be growing organically, based upon opportunities. It doesn’t look like the typical county,” Smith said.
At the statewide level, Florida has consistently ranked in the top 10 in migration, from 2010 to 2021, he said.
In 2021, it recorded a migration rate of 1.91%, which made it the fastest-growing state, in terms of migration.
“People are moving to Florida because it’s beautiful, has a low unemployment rate and is adding jobs,” Smith said.
It’s also growing at a faster rate as compared to other states, he said.
Florida’s GDP growth from 2010 to 2021 was 33%, ranking it among the nation’s top 10.
Its growth has been consistent, too, he said.
“Employers have added jobs over 30 consecutive months. Private sector yearly growth rate has exceeded the nation’s for 19 consecutive months,” he said, adding, it’s not just a one-off.
“Consecutively, we’re growing faster than everybody else,” he said.
Most recently, hospitality and leisure have been growing, but there’s also been growth in education, health services, trade and transportation, he said.
At the regional level, the Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) including Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater, grew at a rate of 3.8% between 2010 and 2021.
That placed the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater MSA at 194th out of 384.
Compared to other MSAs in Florida, it ranked in the 40th percentile, meaning 60% of the MSAs in Florida are growing faster.
“That’s not that good of news, in terms of growth,” Smith said.
In terms of inflation, the region didn’t compare well, either.
With an inflation rate of 9.6% , the region is getting hit harder than the national rate of 7.1%, he said.
“It’s not good.”
He provided some specifics on items that were more expensive in November 2021 than they were in November 2020.
“Real estate prices skyrocketed, up about 16% from November 2021, from 2020,” he said.
The cost of energy was up by 13%, he said.
The cost of dairy, fruits, vegetables and home furnishings also are up between 9% and 10%.
Takeaways about Florida and Pasco’s economies
- Florida is in the top 10 states, in terms of migration and gross domestic product (GDP) growth.
- Tampa-St. Pete-Clearwater is growing about as fast as other urban areas across the United States, but is growing a little slower than the average urban area in Florida.
- Inflation is hitting the Tampa-St. Pete-Clearwater region harder than other urban areas. The categories of food, housing, energy, and services all experienced inflation greater than 10% from November 2020 to November 2021.
- From a Pasco County-level perspective, the two line items that had a statistically significant influence over growth were the percentage of the population under 18 years of age and the percentage of the population that fell below the poverty line.
- After comparing Pasco County to Florida and the United States, the cost of homes was lower (about $50,000 less), but household income is lower, too, and the workforce is less-educated.
- Changes in the Information Industry are pronounced over time, the proportion of gross domestic product (GDP) coming from government expenditures was relatively low.
- Pasco County seems to be growing organically based on opportunities: It doesn’t really look like the typical county in Florida.
Source: Zachary Smith, an assistant professor of economics and finance at Saint Leo University.
Published February 08, 2023