Community Dashboard

Community Initiatives

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.


+5.0% VS. 2015


Data shows that after steeply increasing every decade between 1970 and 2000, the population stagnated. Between 2010 and 2017, population has come to our area, though Santa Rosa far outpaces Escambia’s growth rate.


-4.5% VS. 2015

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.


-0.7% VS. 2015

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.


+7.4% VS. 2010

Median Income

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.


-3.4% VS. 2010

Middle Class Households

"Middle class households" — families who earn between $20,000-$99,000 in 2009 dollars — add to the economic activity, stability and vibrancy of a community. In 2016, 64.6% of Escambia households were middle class; in Santa Rosa it was 67.2%. The state figure is 63.5%.


+3.2% VS. 2016-17

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.


-1.1% VS. 2010

Rent-Burdened Households

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 2016 in Escambia, the figure was 51%; in Santa Rosa it was 45.2%. The state figure is 57.4%.


-5% VS. 2010

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.


-2% VS. State Average

Kindergarten Readiness

This is the percentage of 5-year-olds found kindergarten-ready when evaluated in the first month of the school year. Children who are not ready for kindergarten may never catch up. This also puts extra stress on teachers and takes time away from other children. Florida has tracked readiness since 2004, but changed how scoring is reported in 2010-2011, and again in 2015-16, resulting in a two-year gap in reporting. Another test was chosen for the 2017-2018 school year, making historical comparison difficult.


+4.7% VS. 2017

High School Graduation Rate

This tracks the percentage of students who finished high school in four years. Escambia’s graduation rate has climbed steadily from a rate of 58% in 2011.


1.1% VS. 2013

College Graduates

Research shows that 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 2016 in Escambia County, 24.8% of people had a bachelor's degree or higher in Santa Rosa it was 26.8%. The state rate was 27.8%.


+1.5% VS. 2016

Single-Parent Households

Children living in single-parent families often face more economic and social hurdles than their peers from two-parent families.


+6% VS. 2013

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%.


+12.8% VS. 2014

Voter Turnout

How healthy is democracy in your community? Voter turnout is one way to measure that. In the 2018 midterm election, turnout was 61.2% in Escambia county; in Santa Rosa, it was 57.6%. The state turnout was 62.7%. All three figures were up compared to the 2014 midterm election.


-4.7% VS. 2016

Crime Rate

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.


0.0% VS. 2017

Preterm Births

Escambia County ranks 62nd out of 67 counties in the preterm birth rate — and among 17 counties of similar population, Escambia ranked last. Preterm birth rate tracks the percent of babies born before 37 weeks gestation. Children born earlier than 37 weeks can be at risk for health and developmental issues.


-0.9% VS. 2017-18

VPK Participation

Since 2005, all Florida 4-year-olds have been eligible to attend voluntary prekindergarten for free. In Escambia County, during 2018-2019 school year, an estimated 1,577 children who were eligible for the state program were not enrolled in it. In Escambia and Santa Rosa counties, participation rates lag behind the state rate.

Community Initiatives

The Studer Community Institute exists for one reason: to improve the quality of life by building vibrant communities.