A new study shows income and education to be below state averages in Franklin County.
The greatest predicted increase in employment over the next five years is mostly in areas that require post high school training, so in order to remain viable in the workforce, residents may be forced to seek further education.
At their Dec. 6 meeting, county commissioners got a glimpse of the Franklin County RESTORE Act Multi Year Implementation Plan (MYIP) prepared by Dewberry, the contractor designated to liaise with the federal government on the county’s behalf.
Franklin County has been designated as disproportionately affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill under RESTORE, and is slated to receive $23.6 million in compensation. In order to qualify, the county must develop a plan for spending the money on projects in keeping with RESTORE eligibility.
The MYIP under development deals only with $4.14 million in Year One funding that the county will receive as a result of the Transocean and Andarko settlements connected to the April 2010 oil rig explosion.
The steps to developing the MYIP outlined in the Dewberry report are needs assessment; development of project selection criteria; project submission; ranking of projects and drafting the MYIP.
One report presented to commissioners by Dewberry to aid in development of the MYIP is a market analyses for Franklin County prepared by the Haas Center, a consulting arm of the University of West Florida that engages in applied research and strategy development in economics and across the social sciences.
The 49-page report begins with an economic and demographic report, that states there are 745 businesses in the county, approximately one-third, about 250, based in Apalachicola, and 144 located in Eastpoint and Carrabelle combined.
Franklin County has a low population density with only 22 people per square mile. Apalachicola is the most densely populated area with more than 1,600 per square mile. Carrabelle and Eastpoint have 427 and 326 per square mile, respectively.
Carrabelle has the lowest median age, 38, while Apalachicola has the highest 46. The median age statewide is about 40. Carrabelle’s median age reflects the higher proportion of 25 to 34 year-old residents.
The population across the county is aging and the median age will increase by about six months by 2020, which is slightly less than the increase of seven months projected for the state as a whole.
About 21 percent of Franklin County residents have less than a high school education compared to a statewide average of 13 percent.
According to the Haas study, in the county as a whole 41 percent of residents have some college education and 20 percent have a college degree, compared to the state averages of 55 percent having taken some college courses and 32 percent having completed a degree.
Apalachicola is the best educated community with 42 percent completing some college courses and 23 percent holding degrees. Carrabelle has the lowest level of educational attainment with 30 percent having completed some college courses, 14 percent having completed a degree and 2 percent reporting no schooling completed.
In Eastpoint 40 percent have some college education and 19 percent of the residents have completed a degree.
The median household income in Franklin County is about $31,000. According to the Haas study 37 percent of Franklin County households make less than $25,000 annually; in Apalachicola 42 percent of households fall into this category.
In Carrabelle 43 percent come in below the $25,000 mark. Carrabelle also had the highest poverty rate based on statistics from 2010 through 2014, with 33 percent, while in Apalachicola only 18 percent earned below poverty level. The overall county poverty rate was 23 percent compared to the state average of 17 percent.
The Haas Study predicts that income in all areas will increase at least 5 percent over the next five years but it is expected that both Apalachicola and Carrabelle will continue to have below-average median household incomes through 2020.
The second part of the Haas study examines the prevalent industries in the area. According to the study the main industries (excluding government) for Franklin County based on number of employees are lodging and food service, with 693.
The retail trade employs 488; health care and social assistance, 308; real estate, 189; manufacturing, 166, other service industries, 112; professional, scientific and technical services, 105; educational services, 104 and crop and animal production, 102.
The largest industry in Franklin County is full-service restaurants, but with an average wage of $25,000 it pays less than many other industries.
State and local government are the next largest employers of county residents and offer salaries in the $50,000 to $52,000 range, according to the study. Hospitals, which employ 183 workers, offer a median pay of $50,000. Seafood preparation and packing the fifth largest industry pays a median salary of $41,000.
The largest percentage change in the number of workers projected for the next five years is a 49 percent decrease for the crop and animal production category, reflecting the decline of the seafood industry.
Also predicted to decline are finance and insurance losing 20 percent; real estate declining by 7 percent and arts and entertainment losing 4 percent.
Industries where employment is predicted to show the greatest growth over the same period are information, predicted to grow 43 percent from 30 to 43 workers; health care and social assistance predicted to increase by 20 percent from 308 to 385 workers; professional, scientific and technical services predicted to increase from 105 to 129 workers, 23 percent, and administrative support, waste management and remediation predicted to grow from 144 to 176 employed, an increase of 22 percent.
All of the industries predicted to show strong growth over the next five years require at least a high school education, with information technology, health care and social services, and professional, scientific and technical services requiring post-high school training.