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Here’s who will be hurt the most in Tampa Bay by Covid-19

Margie Manning

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Photo by Kate Townsend on Unsplash

The Tampa Bay area is less vulnerable than other major metro areas in Florida and much of the United States to the economic impact of the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak.

Still, the local economic fallout from the pandemic is hitting hardest among the people who can least afford it, according to a new report from the Tampa Bay Partnership.

That could lead to new local and regional support structures to help the people suffering the most, the report said.

The Partnership, working with United Way Suncoast, Community Foundation of Tampa Bay and University of South Florida Muma College of Businesses, is launching a series of reports to track the economic impact of the pandemic, as the St. Pete Catalyst reported earlier this week.

The Partnership’s annual Regional Competitiveness Reports — comparing the Tampa-St. Petersburg area with 19 other high-performing communities across the country — already have shown the area has relatively low average wages and household income, and a relatively high number of people living in or near poverty.

“The retail, service and hospitality businesses that have shuttered as a result of Covid-19 are the ones that provide, for the most part, hourly jobs that can’t be performed remotely. Add to that the unique challenges of the elderly, the disabled and those without health insurance, and it’s a perfect storm, raining disproportionately on a population that can least afford it,” the Partnership’s April 8 report said. “As we consider the length and depth of the pandemic and resulting economic crisis, we may need to consider the creation of new local and regional support structures to help the people who are suffering the most.”

The report includes several data points, comparing the eight-county Tampa Bay area to other parts of Florida and the United States.

Population age 65+  More than 1.1 million residents, or 23.42 percent, of the people in the Tampa Bay area are 65 years old or older, compared to 21 percent statewide and 16.4 percent in the U.S. That’s key because adults older than 65 are more likely to die from Covid-19 than other age groups.

Households with a disabled member About one in four households in Tampa Bay include a person with a disability, presenting potential challenges for emergency and medical personnel, and making them more likely to be affected by stay at home measures and job loss. On a percentage basis, Tampa Bay exceeds the number of households with a disabled member in both the U.S. and in Florida.

Lack of health insurance  Tampa Bay has 487,575 residents — about 5.3 percent — who are between 19 and 64 years old and don’t have health insurance, making them more likely to have undiagnosed underlying medical conditions that make them more susceptible to the virus and more likely to transmit an undiagnosed case to others. Nationally, 3.95 percent of people lack health insurance. In Florida, that rate is 5.8 percent.

Poverty Nearly 1.8 million Tampa Bay residents — or 34.24 percent of the total — have a household income less than $50,000 a year for a family of four. That’s higher than the U.S. overall, with 31.91 percent, but below Florida’s 35.37 percent total. This segment of the population is less likely to be prepared for job loss or pay cuts.

Food Stamps/SNAP In this metric, the Tampa Bay region fares better than the state and about the same as the rest of the U.S. About 11.7 percent of Tampa Bay households get food assistance — the same percentage nationwide — but statewide, the number is 16.2 percent

The report also looks at at-risk jobs or share of employment in industries most likely to shrink during the pandemic — mining, oil and gas, transportation, employment services, travel arrangements, leisure and hospitality, and retail. The Partnership found that 29.3 percent of jobs in the region are at-risk. Six other peer communities have more jobs at risk, led by Orlando (39.3 percent) and including South Florida, Jacksonville, Atlanta, San Antonio and Houston. Thirteen peer communities have fewer at-risk jobs.

The jobs that are most impacted by stay at home restrictions and the number of Tampa Bay residents working in those jobs are:

Bartenders: 11,080 employed with $19,260 in median annual earnings

Retail salespersons: 63,730 employed with $23,170 in median annual earnings

Servers: 41,770 employed with $19,530 median annual earnings

Cooks: 25,880 employed with $25,810 median annual earnings

Housekeepers: 13,160 employed with $22,390 median annual earnings

By seeing which industries are hit hardest, there may be an opportunity to retrain people to qualify for better jobs in growing industries, Rick Homans, president and CEO of the Tampa Bay Partnership, told the Catalyst.

Sign up here to subscribe to the Tampa Bay Partnership’s Covid-19 reports.

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