University of South Florida


Future of work: remote work possibilities featuring Andre Dua, moderated by Gert-Jan De Vreede. Two men on stage, one with microphone speaking to audience.

State of the Region reports show Tampa Bay area at top of list for attracting new residents.

The Tampa Bay Partnership, USF researchers unveil data measuring the quality of work and life in the Tampa Bay region

By Althea Johnson, University Communications and Marketing

The Tampa Bay Partnership and the University of South Florida Muma College of Business today released two key economic competitiveness reports that benchmark where the area stacks up against similar metropolitan communities.

This year’s reports focus on the state of work and life and the future of work and life.

The findings, as well as insights into their causes, implications and the shared community challenges ahead, were revealed and discussed at the State of the Region community luncheon held today on the USF Tampa campus. Nearly 500 business leaders, community organizers and government officials attended.

The main findings from the 2023 Tampa Bay E-Insights Report and 2023 Regional Competitiveness Report show:

  • Tampa Bay is No. 1 in attracting new residents of all ages.
  • Life post-pandemic is much more expensive. Housing and transportation take up 54% of the average household budget in Tampa Bay.
  • The search for remote jobs continues to be strong and increasing in all comparable communities.
  • Around half of Tampa Bay students are not at a third grade reading level or prepared for kindergarten.
  • Mental health indicators, such as depression prevalence rates and frequent mental distress, have been rising in recent years.

The Tampa Bay Partnership and collaborating partners Community Foundation Tampa Bay and United Way Suncoast produced the sixth edition of the 2023 Regional Competitiveness Report. USF researchers published the 2023 Tampa Bay E-Insights Report.

Over time, the findings have illuminated successes and regional challenges. Both reports explore how the Tampa Bay area’s eight-county region stacks up against 19 similar-sized peer and aspirational metropolitan areas in key economic and socio-economic metrics. The publications also serve as a roadmap for local and state legislators, public and private business leaders, and academic stakeholders to improve the region’s economic health and growth.

USF’s research utilizes analysis of real-time data to help better understand workforce and quality of life trends. Data signals such as Google Trends and Twitter sentiments derive a holistic picture of the inclusive economic health of the region.

“The post-pandemic recovery continues, but our workplace practices have shifted,” GJ de Vreede, interim dean of the USF Muma College of Business, said. “Our lifestyles are changing as a result. Looking at how Tampa Bay stacks up in terms of its economic opportunities as well as its quality of life will help us identify where we need to invest our time and resources so that everyone in the region thrives.”

Overall, the 2023 Regional Competitiveness Report shows that the Tampa Bay area has had year-over-year improvements in 36 areas. The research tracks the economic competitiveness and growth of the region in 67 indicators that fall into five categories that researchers describe as “drivers” of the regional economy: economic vitality, innovation, infrastructure, talent, and civic quality.

“It is important to note that these are not data points that we will see significant changes in yearly increments, and that is why it is essential that we foster regional collaboration focused on long-term impact,” Bemetra Simmons, president and CEO of Tampa Bay Partnership, said. “State of the Region brings together many thought leaders who can use the research to set strategies, build relationships and align resources to achieve our goals.”

Factors such as population and demography, the size of the economy and the presence of regional assets were considered in the selection of comparison communities. They include Minneapolis-St. Paul, Jacksonville, Atlanta, Austin, Houston and Charlotte. To see a full list of the cities, go here.

This is the sixth year that USF and the Tampa Bay Partnership have teamed up to compile two complementary reports.

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