Pensacola Metro Dashboard
What gets measured gets improved
Objective benchmarks are vital to gauging progress and identifying areas that need improvement. In cooperation with the University of West Florida Office for Economic Development and Engagement, the Studer Institute has created this dashboard of 16 metrics to provide an at-a-glance look at the area’s growth, educational attainment, economic prospects, safety and civic life. All metrics represent the Pensacola Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), which includes all of Escambia and Santa Rosa counties.
After stagnating though the 2000s, the region’s population grew steadily between 2010 and 2018, though Santa Rosa's growth still outpaces Escambia’s.
Median Workforce Age
One measure of a healthy, vibrant community is the median age of the workforce. A younger workforce can be an indicator that young professionals are staying in their community — or being drawn to it from elsewhere — seeking a good quality of life. As this number rises, it can indicate an aging population that is may not be attracting and retaining young talent.
Labor Force Participation
The unemployment rate is often reported as a measure of joblessness, but it leaves out people who quit looking for work. Labor force participation shows how many people who are eligible to work are doing so. It has hovered around the same rate in Escambia County since 2010.
Median income is the very middle of the income scale — half of earners make more than that, half make less than that. It is one measure of the average person’s purchasing power and economic well-being. In 2019, Escambia's was $55,766; Santa Rosa's was $77,968. The state median income was $65,772.
Middle Class Households
"Middle class households" add to the economic activity, stability and vibrancy of a community — but there is a wide gap between the bottom of that range and the top of it. In 2019, 69.8% of Escambia households were middle class; in Santa Rosa it was 70.5%. The state figure is 68.7%.
Free & Reduced-Price Lunch
This helps measure poverty in a community. Children living in households at or below 185% of the poverty level are eligible to receive free or reduced-price meals at their schools. Escambia's rate for 2020-21 was 75.5 percent; Santa Rosa's was 33.2. The state rate was 62.8.
The rule of thumb for affordability is that housing should cost no more than 30% of your monthly income. This point tracks the percentage of people who spend more than that on rent. As of 2019 in Escambia, the figure was 40.3%; in Santa Rosa it was 44.7%. The state figure is 52.4%.
Cost of Child Care
This tracks average child care costs (for infant and preschoolers) as a percentage of median income for single-parent families. The expense of childcare can impact other financial choices a family is able to make.
The news on kindergarten readiness is mixed. Escambia's rate has increased to 48 percent from 47 percent in 2019; Santa Rosa's jumped from 57 percent in 2019 to 78 percent in 2020. The state rate jumped 4 percentage points to 57 percent. Children who are not ready for kindergarten may struggle to catch up. This also puts extra stress on teachers and takes time away from other children.
High School Graduation Rate
This tracks the percentage of students who finished high school in four years. Escambia’s graduation rate for 2020 was 86.5 percent; Santa Rosa's was 90.3 percent. The state rate was 90 percent.
Communities with higher percentages of college-educated residents have higher wages overall. Pew Research Center study shows people with a college degree earned about $17,500 more a year than those with just a high school diploma. In 2019 in Escambia County, 27% of people had a bachelor's degree or higher in Santa Rosa it was 28%. The state rate was 30.7%.
Children living in single-parent families often face more economic and social hurdles than their peers from two-parent families. In 2019, 43.8 percent of Escambia family households were headed by single parents. In Santa Rosa, 20.3 percent of family households were led by a single parent. The state rate was 36.
Overweight & Obesity Rate
Two out of three people in the Pensacola metro area are either overweight or obese, meaning they have a body mass index of 25 or higher. Obesity-related health problems diminish worker productivity and add cost to the health care system. Escambia County rate was 64.3%, while Santa Rosa was 70%. The state average was 63.2%.
How healthy is democracy in your community? Voter turnout is one way to measure that. In the 2020 general election, turnout was 73.9% in Escambia County; in Santa Rosa, it was 73.7%. The state turnout was 77%. All three figures were up compared to the 2016 general election.
This measures the number of crimes reported per 100,000 citizens, including both violent crimes and property crimes. The crime rate has been declining in Escambia County for the last five years. In Escambia it was down 3.4 percent in 2019 from 2018. In Santa Rosa, it was down 10.3 percent in the same time period. The state crime rate is down 6.3 percent from 2018.
Escambia County has struggled in this area for years, ranking near the bottom in preterm birth rate among 17 counties of similar population. In 2019, Escambia's preterm birth rate was 14.6; Santa Rosa's was 13.4. The state rate is 10.6.
It’s no surprise that participation in the state’s voluntary prekindergarten program declined in 2020, due in large part of the COVID-19 pandemic. Research suggests that children who complete VPK are more ready for kindergarten than those who don’t.