Axios Tampa Bay

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Today's newsletter is 631 words, a 2.-minute read.

1 big thing: The state of our economy

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Tampa Bay households have the highest debt-to-income ratio when compared to similar regions, even as incomes have risen in recent years.

  • That's according to this year's Tampa Bay E-Insights report assessing the state of our local economy compared to 19 metropolitan areas that, per the report, "reflect both peer and aspirational relationships" with Tampa Bay.

Why it matters: The analysis puts data to the financial strain that many Tampa Bay families have experienced over the last decade while facing rising housing costs and inflation.

Meanwhile, the region snagged the top spot for domestic migration, signaling that it's still seen as a desirable place to live. And the cost of living remains comparatively low.

  • The assessment defines the region as eight counties: Citrus, Hernando, Pasco, Pinellas, Hillsborough, Polk, Manatee and Sarasota.

Here are more takeaways from the report, which was issued this week by the University of South Florida Muma College of Business and the Tampa Bay Partnership:

Income: Tampa Bay's household debt relative to income fell slightly from 2021 to 2022, the most recent year for which data was available. But it was still ranked highest, with San Diego trailing in second.

  • Our per capita income increased from 2016 to 2022, but still ranks near the bottom compared to the other cities studied. Only San Antonio and Orlando ranked lower.
  • Tampa Bay also ranks near the bottom for income inequality, which rose from 2019 to 2022.

Housing: Rents increased by 72% between 2015 and 2023, leaving Tampa Bay in 15th place in affordability. Only Denver, Orlando, Seattle, Miami and San Diego were more expensive.

  • Home values increased by nearly 126% between 2015 and 2023.

Yes, but: That increase comes at a cost. The region dipped from second in 2020 to fourth last year for homeownership affordability.

Health care: Medicare spending per capita has increased each year to nearly $12,000 in 2021, the fifth highest cost behind Dallas, Houston, Miami and Orlando.

And more: Commutes are getting longer, leaving Tampa Bay ranked in the bottom half for residents who spend more than 30 minutes getting to and from work.

  • It's relatively cheap here to join a gym or rent a tennis court, but movie tickets are on the more expensive side.
  • Our graduate tuition is the most affordable, but our undergraduate tuition has climbed in recent years, leaving Tampa Bay in 12th place for affordability in 2022.

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2. πŸ˜‹ Michelin expands Tampa guide

Photos from Predalina. Courtesy of Motion Minds

Michelin has added more Tampa restaurants to its menu.

Why it matters: The most prestigious name in food is shining a spotlight on more casual Tampa eateries this year.

  • Details: Supernatural Food & Wine, Predalina, Streetlight Taco, The Pearl, Ebbe and Kōsen now round out the list of 30 restaurants in the Tampa guide.
  • These restaurants could receive stars or Bib Gourmand honors in the Michelin Guide Ceremony on April 18 in Tampa.

Flashback: When Michelin first arrived in Florida two years ago, three Tampa restaurants received honors β€” but no stars.

Context: Only Tampa spots are highlighted because the city's tourism board paid to be included in Michelin's honors. Visit St. Pete/Clearwater wasn't part of the deal.

  • Michelin's Florida guide also includes Miami, Orlando and Winter Park.

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3. The Pulp: RIP Bradenton Blues Fest

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

πŸ’Έ St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport secured a $6 million federal grant for its terminal expansion project. (Tampa Bay Business Journal)

🎻 The Bradenton Blues Festival, one of the region's longest-running music festivals, has been permanently canceled. (Bradenton Herald)

πŸ‘©β€πŸΌ A bill excusing new mothers from jury duty cleared its last stop in the state Legislature by unanimous vote. (Florida Politics)

4. πŸ”₯ Hot Boxes: Highlighting Tampa Bay's mail art

Photo: Selene San Felice/Axios

πŸ™ Selene was ten-tickled by this Treasure Island mailbox.

πŸ“¬ Seen novelty mailboxes around Tampa Bay? Send us photos, and we'll feature them in our next installment!

🐣 Kathryn is wishing her friends Laura and Ian congratulations on their baby boy!

πŸ’• Selene is enjoying her Valentine's dinner leftovers.

πŸ€• Yacob is recovering from a wicked headache.