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Business Observer Friday, Dec. 8, 2017 3 years ago

Data snapshot: Spend freely

We've got bucks, and we know how to spend them.

Florida, partially due to its lack of a state income tax, grabbed the No. 1 spot in the South Atlantic region in a survey of discretionary income that utilized data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, The Tax Foundation, and The Council For Community and Economic Research.

The report, compiled by San Francisco moving and storage technology company Trove Technologies, ranked the Sunshine State ahead of North Carolina, Georgia and Virginia. Its first ever Trove Discretionary Income Study, the report defines discretionary income as the amount of income leftover after subtracting estimated taxes and basic expenses. Estimated taxes includes federal and state, where applicable, and Social Security and Medicare. Basic expenses includes six categories: groceries, health care, housing, miscellaneous, transportation and utilities.

Florida scored a 62 overall, out of 100, with $6,342 in average discretionary income per person, the report shows. That's based on an average annual salary of $46,210. North Carolina posted a score of 60; Georgia posted a 58. Other no-income tax states did significantly better than Florida, such as Tennessee, with a score of 90, and Texas, with a score of 98.

In addition to Florida's strong regional showing, Lakeland, with an overall score of 72, ranked No. 1 among all medium-sized cities in the South Atlantic. Cape Coral-Fort Myers was No. 3 in the region, with a score of 59, and Sarasota-Bradenton was No. 6, with 52. The Tampa region, while bigger, posted a score of 39, a ranking of fair.

In Sarasota-Bradenton the report points out a well-known issue: lack of affordable, or attainable housing. The cost of housing is lower in Lakeland, for example, which makes up for the Polk County city's lower average salary than the Sarasota-Bradenton.

“Sarasota is a mixed bag when it comes to enabling workers to keep more of what they earn,” Trove co-founder Michael Pao says in a statement. “Our research finds that although Sarasota ranks first for salaries among medium-sized cities in Florida, workers have lower discretionary income due to housing expenses that are almost 9% higher compared to other similarly sized cities in Florida.”

Discretionary income

Average salary: $46,210
Estimated taxes: $9,048
Basic expenses: $30,857
Discretionary income: $6,304

Cape Coral-Fort Myers
Average salary: $44,617
Estimated taxes: $8,867
Basic expenses: $30,557
Discretionary income: $5,392

Average salary: $43,166
Estimated taxes: $8,319
Basic expenses: $28,837
Discretionary income: $6,009

Average salary: $44,820
Estimated taxes: $8,715
Basic expenses: $30,991
Discretionary income: $5,112

Average salary: $45,675
Estimated taxes: $8,920
Basic expenses: $31,238
Discretionary income: $5,516

Big Spenders

Florida is tops in the South Atlantic, and five regions in the state are in the top 13 of medium-sized cities, in discretionary income.

South Atlantic States
1. Florida
2. North Carolina
3. Georgia
4. Virginia
5. Delaware
6. West Virginia
7. South Carolina
8. Maryland

U.S. Medium-sized Cities, South Atlantic
1. Lakeland
2. The Research Triangle, N.C.
3. Palm Bay
4. Cape Coral
5. Greensboro, N.C.
6. Sarasota-Bradenton
7. Winston-Salem, N.C.
8. Deltona
9. Wilmington, Del.
10. Augusta, Ga.
11. Charleston, S.C.
12. Greenville, S.C.
13 Columbia, S.C.

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