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Census: Floridians Driving More and Earning Less

Floridians drive more, earn less and pay about the same percentage in property taxes compared to residents of other states, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s latest compendium of data.

The bureau’s 2008 American Community Survey, a massive annual compilation of demographic and financial information, was released Tuesday.

Among its findings: Florida’s property taxes are lower -- percentage-wise-- than the national median. Of nearly 788 counties surveyed, Broward County ranked 330th in the country with a property tax rate equal to 1 percent of home value, identical to that of half of U.S. counties. In Broward, that translated in 2008 to $2,641, according to an analysis of the data by The Tax Foundation, a D.C.-based group.

Overall, the top 10 counties in how much they pay in property taxes were all in New York with the majority of other high tax states also clustered in the Northeast.

"In the county rankings, there has been little change from the 2007 numbers, where the Northeast, specifically New York and New Jersey, dominated the highest-taxed counties," said Gerald Prante, senior economist for the Tax Foundation.

With a median household income of $47,778 for 2008, Florida ranked 34 among U.S. states and the District of Columbia in annual income. The median household income in the United State States is $52,209.

Florida’s reliance on service employment is partially responsible for the low ranking. The state has the fourth highest service employment rate in the country while ranking 46 among states for professional level employment.

In total, five states — Arizona, California, Florida, Indiana and Michigan — saw real median household income fall between 2007 and 2008. That compares to one state between 2006 and 2007.

On the home front, Florida ranked 20 in median home value in 2008 with half the homes valued at less than $218,700 compared to $197,600 for the U.S. as a whole. Half of Florida homeowners pay at least $1,603 a month in mortgage and escrow payments, higher than the median U.S. monthly outlay of $1,514.

Higher home prices and lower median income combine to make it relatively more expensive for Floridians to own homes. Among mortgage holders, 49 percent of Floridians spend more than 30 percent of their monthly income on housing, the third highest rate in the country.

Other findings include:

Floridians commute 25.8 minutes a day on average to get to work, slightly more than their U.S. peers. North Dakota workers had the least travel time, traveling less than 15 minutes to their jobs.
Arguably the best place to be a single heterosexual male in America is Washington D.C., the only place in the country where unmarried women outnumber unmarried men. Good luck if you’re a guy in Alaska, where there are 13 unmarried men to every 10 unmarried women.

Nearly 38 percent of Florida grandparents are responsible for the welfare of their grandchildren compared to 41 percent of all U.S. residents.

More than one in five Floridians speak a language other than English in their homes, the eighth highest percentage among American states.

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