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Hernando's median household income is $36,515

Published:   |   Updated: September 21, 2013 at 06:18 PM

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The median household income in Hernando County is $36,515, about $15,000 less than the national average and $8,000 less than the Tampa Bay metropolitan area.

The U.S. Census Bureau issued a report this week showing that in 2012, real median household income and the poverty rate were not statistically different from the previous year.

Household income in the nation for 2012 was $51,017 and the Tampa Bay metropolitan area was $44,402.

The median means that half the people make less than $36,515 and half make more.

Hernando County homeowners also paid a median $728 per month on housing costs in 2012, according to the American Community Survey report.

A big reason why Hernando County's median household income is so much lower is because of a large percentage of seniors who are not in the workforce and depend on retirement income, said Dave Hamilton, operations manager for the Pasco-Hernando Workforce Board.

"I'm not shocked," Hamilton said of the numbers. "Because of our retirement community status, we are low wage."

The new report shows 34.8 percent of households are receiving retirement income while households with earnings make up 53.7 percent.

Another 52 percent have some kind of Social Security income.

"In areas where you have a younger workforce and more people working, then you have a higher wage," Hamilton said.

By comparison, Pasco and Citrus counties' median household incomes were $42,704 and $39,322 respectively.

For a family of two, the 2013 federal poverty line is $15,510; a family of three is $19,530; and a family of four is $23,550.

County Commission Chairman Dave Russell agreed the numbers are reflective of the demographics of Hernando County, which for many years was marketed as a retirement community.

"We're slowly but surely trying to reshape that," he said.

Russell said he doesn't believe potential employers are put off by the low median household income statistics.

"I think business and manufacturers look for synergy among other businesses and we're doing that," he said.

Also, Hernando County's positive quality of life is appealing to new business, Russell added.

A separate report issued by the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages in July showed Hernando County government employees make about $12,000 (or 41 percent) more than their private sector counterparts.

The average salary of the 900-plus employees who work for the county and city of Brooksville (including the elected constitutional officers) is $42,970 annually. That compares to $30,357 for the non-government, private sector employees.

Those numbers exclude some 630 law enforcement workers who make an average of $42,946.

The gap between private and public workers in Hernando County is larger than the state, which pays government workers $51,113 while private-sector employees make $42,446.

The gap is also larger than neighboring Pasco County, where government employees average $40,654 to the private sector's $32,750, the report said.

Hamilton said the July numbers still hold up today.

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