Anyone who has lived and worked (or lost a job) in the Tampa Bay area in the past five years has a story about the shift from the boom years of the mid-2000s to the present economic downturn.
Recently released estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau bring into stark relief the changes that came as the Bay area moved from boom to bust — changes that have reached every corner of the region.
Home vacancies grew by at least 20 percent in the 11-county region stretching from Citrus County to Sarasota County from 2005-07 to 2007-09.
Pasco County led the region, with the number of vacant houses growing more than 35 percent from the high times to the low. Subprime loans, foreclosures and bank ownership have helped turn many of Pasco's newest subdivisions into half-finished ghost towns.
The area has seen some of the highest growth in the state of people seeking food stamps and other public assistance.
In Hernando County, the ranks of people getting public aid jumped 70 percent from 2005-2007 to 2007-2009 — the biggest change in the region. Sarasota County was close behind, with a 64 percent increase in people needing help.