MILTON — Santa Rosa County is the 10th most financially healthy county in Florida, according to a report by SmartAsset, a New York financial technology company, which surveyed the nation.
The study analyzed debt, bankruptcy, poverty and unemployment in counties across the country to find where residents were the most financially healthy. According to the study, Santa Rosa County is one of the healthiest places in Florida when it comes to the financial stability of its residents.
"In our study, a financially healthy county means people there have low average debt as a percent of income, along with a low chance of being affected by personal bankruptcies, poverty or unemployment," the report said.
The most financially healthy county in Florida is Sumter County, with an overall financial health index of 87.2 out of 100.
The average rate of debt per income for Florida residents is 1.27 percent; Santa Rosa County’s rate is 1.51 percent. The rate of bankruptcies for Santa Rosa County is 1.54 percent, less than Florida’s rate of 2.09.
Santa Rosa County’s poverty rate is 12.3 percent, less than Florida’s rate of 15.8 percent. The lowest rate in the state belongs to Sarasota County with 9.7 percent.
Santa Rosa’s unemployment rate is 4.5 percent, less than Florida’s rate of 4.88 percent. The lowest unemployment rate in the state belongs to Monroe County with 3.2 percent. Although Sumter County is ranked Florida's most financially healthy county, it holds the highest unemployment rate at 7 percent, according to SmartAsset.
"To calculate debt as a percent of income, we divided debt per capita by income per capita," the report said. "To calculate bankruptcies per 1,000 people, we divided total bankruptcies by the population, and multiplied that number by 1,000. To calculate the financial health index, we weighted debt as a percent of income 10 percent, bankruptcies 35 percent, poverty rates 45 percent and unemployment rates 10 percent.
"We ranked the counties on each of the categories and then indexed each category. We then added those indices together and indexed that."
Santa Rosa County ranked No. 640 in the nation. The most financially healthy county in the United States is Los Alamos County in New Mexico with a financial health index of 100, 1.18 percent debt, 4 percent poverty rate, 4.2 percent unemployment rate and 0.39 percent bankruptcies.
According to the United Way of Santa Rosa County, as many as one-third of working Americans do not earn enough money to meet their basic needs. United Way set forth a goal nearly 10 years ago to help 1.9 million working families get on the road to economic independence by 2018 with a focus on family-sustaining employment, affordable housing, savings and assets, manageable expenses and income supports.
Organizations such as the Santa Rosa County Economic Development Office contribute to the financial health and stability of the county by providing services that include business location and site selection assistance; employee recruitment and training assistance; start-up advice, training and resources for businesses; financial assistance with loans, grants and tax-exempt bonds; assistance with finding and implementing incentives; education and training opportunities for businesses; making recommendations to local government bodies to assist new and growing industry; and assisting with expedited regulation and permitting review.