Tampa MSA continues to outrank major metros in affordability, low unemployment

November 19, 2015

Site selectors and corporate executives consider many factors when evaluating a community’s potential as a relocation or expansion destination.
How is the business climate? What is the tax structure? What is the cost of living?
Our research department carefully monitors how we stack up to competing markets such as Orlando, Nashville, Dallas, and Charlotte.
One major report that we publish quarterly is the Cost of Living Index (COLI). This study is based on prices for items ranging from housing and utilities to groceries and clothing. In the third quarter of 2015, the Tampa metro area’s COLI came in at 89.9, the lowest cost of living index among the reported Florida markets. Goods and services in Tampa Bay are 10.1 percent below the national average.
COLI 3Q Trend
Our community’s low score is driven mainly by our low housing index score. At the end of the third quarter, our housing cost index was 77.5, meaning our new home prices, mortgage rates, and apartment rates were 22.5 percent less than the U.S. average. Another factor is our below average grocery and health care costs.
Tampa’s job numbers also help our metro area stand out in a positive light. In September 2014, our unemployment rate was 5.9 percent. This September, that figure dipped to 5.0 percent, which is lower than Jacksonville, Phoenix, and Charlotte, as well as the state of Florida’s rate of 5.3 percent.
MSA Unemployment Sep '14 vs Sep '15
In terms of job numbers, the Tampa area continues to thrive with the second highest number of jobs in Florida in September. The leisure and hospitality industry saw the largest employment gains since September 2014 with 12,900 new jobs, while education and health services saw 8,600 new jobs and construction 3,200.