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Business Observer Friday, Feb. 9, 2018 3 years ago

Wage relief

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Hillsborough, Pinellas rank at top in the percentage of wage gain.

A sticking point that often comes up when selling the Tampa area to potential major corporate relocation targets is the region's low wages.

But a new report, compiled by the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp., punctures some holes in that theory. The study shows that over the past decade, from 2007 to 2016, Hillsborough and Pinellas counties posted the highest gains in average annual wages among seven of Florida's large counties. That goes for highest dollar increase and highest percentage gains.

On highest dollar increase, Hillsborough is No. 1, up $9,552 from 2007 - 2016, the report states, while No. 2, Pinellas, rose $9,914 over the same time frame. No other county on the list (Broward, Duval, Orange, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach) surpassed $8,000 in gains over the decade. For highest percentage wage gain increase, Pinellas is No. 1, at 24.6%. Hillsborough, with 23.2%, is next.

“Tampa and Hillsborough County's sustained efforts to attract and grow companies that pay higher wages and invest in our community is paying off,” Tampa Hillsborough President and CEO Craig Richard says in a statement. “Employers are drawn to this region for the quality of talent they find here, and salaries are rising accordingly.”

Other survey nuggets include:

• Hillsborough County's current average annual wage, $50,768, is the second highest average annual wage in Florida, behind Palm Beach County at $51,098; and

• Between 2015-2016, Hillsborough County had the highest average wage increase of Florida's seven largest metro areas, at $1,061 or 2.1%;

• Pinellas County remains near the bottom of the top seven largest counties in average annual wages at $46,496 — despite being a leader in percentage wage gain increase. The only county with a lower wage than Pinellas is Orange County, Orlando, at $46,424 in 2016, the report shows.

• On a statewide basis, Florida lags the seven large-population counties, with an average annual wage of $46,346.

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