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Tampa Bay Area More Financially Distressed Than Detroit?

According to a national agency, Tampa-St. Petersburg has the nation's most financially distressed consumers, due to high unemployment and difficulty paying for housing. Just how bad is it out there?

Are you feeling financially distressed? How bad is it out there? Tell us in comments below.

High unemployment and difficulty paying for housing are the major reasons Tampa-St. Petersburg consumers are the most financially troubled in the United States.

According to CredAbility, a national nonprofit credit couseling and education agency, Tampa Bay is the most distressed major metro area in the nation — worse than Detroit, Miami-Fort Lauderdale, Atlanta and Los Angeles.

Households in Washington, D.C., are the most financially healthy, followed by those in Boston, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Honolulu and Dallas-Fort Worth, according to the agency.

Those are among the key findings of the latest CredAbility Consumer Distress Index, which tracks the financial condition of the average U.S. household by measuring five categories: employment, housing, credit, how families manage household budgets and net worth.

A score below 70 on the study's 100-point scale indicates a state of financial distress. Tampa Bay's score of 57.9 was the worst among 25 of the nation’s largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas.

Mark Cole, CredAbility's chief operating officer and publisher of the distressed index, told the Tampa Bay Times that the area's economic struggles are across the board, but the biggest factors in the poor rating are the ongoing housing crisis and still-high unemployment.

"Those two are really the big anchors that weigh you down compared to everybody else," Cole told the Times. "Over a five-year period, you guys have had some really difficult times there."

Mortgage delinquency rates in Tampa-St. Petersburg and Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach are higher than any other major metro area, according to the study. Florida had the fifth-lowest score among all 50 states, ranking behind Nevada, Georgia, Michigan and Mississippi.

There's some good news for the nation's economy as a whole, though. U.S. households scored 69.9 in 2012’s first quarter on the Index’s 100-point scale, up from 67.6 in the previous quarter. The 69.9 score is the highest recorded since 2008’s third quarter and the increase of 2.3 points from the previous quarter is the highest quarterly jump in the past seven years.

Go to CredAbility's website for a detailed explanation of how the index works, a national map and other data.

Mark S. Hankins May 18, 2012 at 01:56 PM
The Tampa Bay Area has tremendous assets in terms of climate and recreation, with an absence of smokestack industry. What it lacks compared to its peers is an effective mass transit system. And rather than shoehorn light rail into the area, it might make sense to look at something truly innovative, like systems developed by SkyTrain or Aerobus. The construction and subsequent availability of a first-class mass transit system could really kickstart the local economy.
Jennifer May 18, 2012 at 04:21 PM
Oh wow! A Rick Scott fan - I wasn't sure any of you existed!
MDB May 18, 2012 at 05:22 PM
Yuppies love the rail systems and city living but we can't give it to them because Tampa is still in the 80's.......So lets dump a bunch of money into a waterfront park and then let people from outside the area figure out how to get to it. Do you think Channellside and the Forum would see more traffic if a rail system could bring people in from Hmmm.....Westchase, New Tampa, Brandon and Carrollwood? I think so.
vinny May 20, 2012 at 01:22 AM
Florida in general was hit pretty hard. I spent two years in Fort Myers and it was pretty bad. Years before I moved down there it seems like things were thriving and suddenly it all went away. http://jokeofthedayblog.blogspot.com
Tempest May 21, 2012 at 01:44 AM
So much of Florida's prosperity before the crash was linked to the housing and tourism industries - both of which have suffered greatly with the economic downturn. And of course, with those go the restaurant, entertainment, and retail business because of the sharp decline in tourism and the amount of money resident homeowners lost. Not to mention the home builders.

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