How family-friendly is Florida?

  • January 19, 2017
  • /   Shannon Nickinson
  • /   community-dashboard

There's more to being a "family friendly" state than the Sunshine State has to offer in several respects according to research by the personal finance website WalletHub.

Newspapers in Tampa, Palm Beach, Miami and elsewhere are reporting on Wallet Hub's "Best and Worst States to Raise a Family" report, released on Jan. 18.

Florida ranks 40th out of 50 states and the District of Columbia. The criteria used fall into five categories: "Family Fun," "Health and Safety," "Education and Child Care," "Affordability," and "Socioeconomics."


In a recent episode of the Studer Community Institute's TV show, Quint Studer highlighted the most recent data on the Metro Dashboard.

If you missed it, watch here.

Data points that WalletHub used include median family income, affordable housing, childcare costs, families with kids, infant mortality, violent crime per capita, percentage of families living in poverty, divorce rate

How does Florida stack up in those areas?

— Family Fun: 34th out of 51.

— Health and Safety: 33rd out of 51.

— Education and Child Care: 35th out of 51.

— Affordability: 44th out of 51.

— Socioeconomics: 42nd out of 51.


Here is a list of the data points WalletHub used in its report:

Family Fun

Number of attractions.

Fitness & Recreational Sports Centers per capita.


Share of families with young children, measured as the percentage of families with children aged 0 to 17.

Average commute time.

Arcades per capita.

Health & Safety

Air Pollution.

Water Quality.

Pediatricians per capita.

Share of children lacking health insurance.

Quality of public hospitals, based on ratings from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Infant-Mortality rate:

Violent crime rate per capita:

Property crime rate per capita:

Education & Child Care

Quality of public schools, based on WalletHub’s “States with the Best & Worst School Systems” ranking.

High School graduation rate

Daycare quality

Childcare costs, adjusted for the median family income.

Parental Leave, based on parental-leave policy scores from the National Partnership for Women & Families.

Child daycare services per capita


Housing Affordability, calculated comparing housing costs to median annual family income.

Median credit score

Credit utilization

Debt delinquency

Mortgage debt, amount of mortgage debt per adult aged 18 and older, as a percentage of median earnings.

Non-Mortgage debt, amount of non-mortgage debt per adult aged 18 and older, as a percentage of median earnings.

Savings, measures the average savings amount per consumer.

Employer-based retirement plans, measures access to and participation in employer-based retirement plans.

Median family income, adjusted for the cost of living.


Separation & Divorce rate

Share of two-parent families

Share of families living below the poverty line

Share of families receiving food stamps

Paid family leave

Unemployment rate

Underemployment rate

Wealth gap

Foreclosure rate

Job security, calculated by comparing number of employees in 2014 to number of employees in 2015.

Job opportunities, calculated by comparing the number of job openings per population in the labor force minus the unemployment rate.

For a more localized snapshot of the Pensacola metro area — which includes Escambia and Santa Rosa counties — check out the Pensacola Metro Dashboard.

The Dashboard is a set of 16 metrics — chosen by the University of West Florida and the Studer Community Institute — to provide a look at the economic, educational and social well-being of the community.

Key points from the 2016 update include:

POPULATION: 2.8 % growth (2010-2015) in Escambia; almost 6% in Santa Rosa (2010-2015). It is 4.2% statewide from 2010-2015.

MEDIAN WORKFORCE AGE: Flat at 37 years old (2010-2015).

LABOR FORCE PARTICIPATION RATE: Essentially flat at 61.8% (2010-2015).

PER CAPITA INCOME: $36,632 in 2014. While state rate has grown by 10%, locally the change is only 6% from 2010 until now.

PERCENT OF PEOPLE CONSIDERED MIDDLE CLASS: 64.5% in 2015; 63.9% in 2010. (“Middle class” is defined as people with jobs that pay between about $22,000 and about $102,000).

FREE AND REDUCED LUNCH RATE: About 60%, roughly the same rate it has been for the last eight years. Spiked at 66% in 2014

PERCENT OF PEOPLE WITH COLLEGE DEGREES: In 2015, 24.5% of people over 25 have a bachelor’s degree or higher. In 2010 it was 23.7%

RENT-BURDENED: 52.2% of Escambians were rent-burdened – paying 30 percent or more of our monthly income toward rent — in 2015. It was 57.2% in 2010.

COST OF CHILD CARE: For an Escambia single parent with two children under 4, 49% of the monthly paycheck would go toward the cost of childcare. That’s unchanged since 2010.

KINDERGARTEN READINESS: With no new data available from the state since 2014, the most recent data available tells us only 66 percent of children are ready for school.

HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION: Up to 72.7 % in Escambia and still near 83% in Santa Rosa. Escambia schools focused on this after our 2014 report, that showed grad rate matched the 66% kindergarten readiness rate. Newest rate should be released later this month.

SINGLE-PARENT HOUSEHOLDS: Steady near 38% for Escambia.

VOTER TURNOUT: Was 73.9% in this last election cycle, down 2% from 2012.

CRIME RATE: There were 4,734 crimes per 100,000 people in Escambia County. That’s down 10.4% from 2013, but still well above the state index crime rate, 3,342 per 100,000. Among eight counties of roughly similar population, Escambia had the second highest violent crime rate per 100,000 — trailing only Leon County.

OBESITY AND OVERWIEGHT RATE: Still near 60%, which ranks us 59th out of 67 counties in health outcomes. In 2015, Escambia County lost 9,071 years of life to disease linked in great part to poor health habits and choices, based on Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Florida Health Department data.