South Florida has come a long way since the Great Recession tanked the local economy. But new Census data show the region’s income and poverty levels have not yet fully recovered to the buying power of the mid-2000s.
In 2017, Miami-Dade’s median household income increased nearly 9 percent over 2016, to $49,930. (Median means half the earners make more, and half make less.) But if you adjust for inflation, the median income for Dade in 2007 of $43,650 would equal $53,053 in 2017 dollars — meaning Miamians are still down about 7.5 percent.
In Broward, the median annual household income grew nearly 5 percent from 2016 to $56,842. In 2007, the Broward median was $52,670, equal to $63,957 in 2017 dollars. That puts Broward down about 11 percent for the decade.
The good news: Local poverty rates have dropped for the past four years; in 2017, the Miami-Dade rate was 16.6 percent. But that’s still above the 2007 rate of 15.3 percent.
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About 450,000 Miami-Dade residents now live below the poverty line, a 27 percent increase from about 356,000 in 2007. (Overall, the county grew by 254,000, or about 10 percent.)
In Broward, the poverty rate has also fallen, to 13.1 percent — about 250,000 individuals. In 2007, Broward’s poverty rate stood at 11.3 percent, or about 198,000 individuals.
The takeaway from the study: While Miami’s middle class shows signs of growth, Broward’s appears to be stagnating.
Over the past five years, Miami-Dade households making between $50,000 and $100,000 climbed 2 percentage points to 27.9 percent. That far outpaces the national growth of 0.3 points to 30.1 percent. But in Broward, those making $50,000 to $100,000 grew by only 0.4 percentage points, to 29.8 percent.
Jonathan Rothbaum, chief of the Income Statistics Branch in the Social, Economic and Housing Statistics Division of the U.S. Census Bureau, said it is possible the slower income growth in Broward reflects population shifts.
“If you saw lower-income people moving from [Broward to Dade], that is possibly [the reason for these findings],” he said.
The data suggest South Floridians may see Broward as a better bargain, luring former Dade residents to move north. Between April 2010 and July 2017, about 165,000 left Miami-Dade for other U.S. destinations. More than 27,750 went to Broward.
One of them was digital marketing manager Jo Viscaino. When she found herself without a job, her best job opportunity was in Fort Lauderdale. She’s now been there about three years. And though she wouldn’t say what she is earning, it’s more than when she worked in Miami, she said.
“Broward is slower pace and it coincided with my own spiritual growth,” she said. “I can meditate, go kayaking, state parks are near by and I don’t get catcalled the minute I walk out my front door.”
She is no longer at the job that took her one county north — and is in fact paying about $200 more in rent than when she was living in Miami. But she has stayed in Fort Lauderdale.
“Now I’m just trying to keep head above water,” she said. “In Fort Lauderdale, if you don’t want to end up in a dangerous neighborhood, [you have to pay more].”
Still, Viscaino says she’s homesick for Miami, espeicially its music scene. She gives the odds of moving back at 50-50, even though the cost of living has climbed since she moved north.
Broward can sometimes be too laid-back, she said. “It’s the capital of cargo shorts and flip-flops.”
Miami teaches you to hustle hard. “Broward does not,” she said.