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Wage growth shows steady improvement

Pasco is tops in Florida, but the average weekly wage is relatively low compared to neighboring counties.

By JODIE TILLMAN
Published June 1, 2007


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First in the state, 19th in the nation: At first glance, Pasco County looks like a star student when it comes to wage growth.

A report released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Labor shows that Pasco's average weekly wages grew by 4.2 percent from the third quarter of 2005 to that same period of 2006.

Nationwide and statewide, average wage growth was less than 1 percent. Of the nation's 325 largest counties, Pasco ranked 19th.

Pasco's performance is good news in a retail-heavy county that has been looking for higher-paying jobs in the technology and manufacturing industries.

But a closer look at the figures shows Pasco is not so much a star student as a steady one.

For one, Pasco's average weekly wage - $589 - was already relatively low. Hillsborough's average weekly wage during that three-month period in 2006 was $757; Pinellas's was $682.

And Pasco's wages have steadily improved as other counties have experienced more dramatic ups and downs.

At this time last year, analysis showed Pasco County's wages in 2005 had an over-the-year wage growth of 5.8 percent, slower than other counties, said Chris Cunningham, an economist with the Department of Labor. Statewide, weekly wages grew about 8 percent during that period.

"A lot of the other counties kind of hit their peak this time last year," he said. "Pasco has been more consistent."

Mary Jane Stanley, president of Pasco Economic Development Council, said she was heartened by the latest figures. She noted that the arrival of a number of industrial and construction businesses - from Master Environmental Services in Dade City to Micron PharmaWorks in Odessa - have helped bring the overall average wages up.

The average annual wage in Pasco County is $28, 074, according to the EDC's latest figures.

"What you're seeing is better companies coming here, companies with better wages," she said. "You'll see the numbers continue to change."

Jodie Tillman covers business in Pasco County. She can be reached at 727 869-6247 or jtillman@sptimes.com.

[Last modified June 1, 2007, 00:39:34]


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