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Tampa Bay cost of living is below the U.S. average

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By KRIS HUNDLEY Published November 25, 2004 The cost of everything from boys underwear to car repair continues to be lower in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties than the national average, according to a quarterly cost of living index released recently. ACCRA, a nonprofit research organization in Arlington, Va., compiles the report, which compares the cost of living in more than 200 counties across the country. With 100 representing the national average, Pinellas scored 95.7 percent in the third quarter while Hillsborough came in at 98.8. Sarasota, meanwhile, ranked higher than the national average, with a score of 104.3. Laura Berkowitz, senior research manager with Pinellas County Economic Development, is one of the half-dozen or so agency employees who spend two days a quarter gathering local data for the ACCRA study. In return for participating, the agency gets a copy of the report, which is sold to the public. In Hillsborough, data are gathered by the Tampa Chamber of Commerce. Price information is gathered during the second week of the quarter. ACCRA said it collects more than 50,000 prices on 60 different items in six areas: housing, utilities, grocery, transportation, health care and miscellaneous goods and services. “We talk to doctors, price tennis balls and check rents for apartments,” Berkowitz said. “We check the cost of everything from an eye exam to an Advil tablet.” ACCRA’s cost of living index is widely used by companies considering relocation, Berkowitz said. So coming in below average is a big plus when it comes to attracting businesses. “We get requests for this information all the time,” she said. “Especially when our area has been short-listed.” Source:
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