Barry County ranks No. 6 in dollar stretching study

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Experts say lower housing, utility costs lead to ranking

A New York financial technology company recently completed its second annual, SmartAsset study, which analyzes places in which Social Security income goes the furthest.

In the study, the company analyzes cost-of-living data, income, and taxes in counties across the U.S. to determine where Social Security is going the furthest, and Barry County came in at number six in the state. According to the data, the county is making its second consecutive appearance in the study's Top 10.

"It's definitely good news for our county," said Jon Horner, president of Security Bank of Southwest Missouri. "It shows that the cost of living here is more economical than in many areas of the nation and goes to show that the earning power has more potential here versus other areas of the country, and it definitely ties in with the quality of life in Barry County."

Reasons for the findings may be lower housing, and lower insurance and utilities, Horner said.

"Probably one of the biggest factors is if you compare areas from Barry County to northwest Arkansas, the Springfield area and the Kansas City and St. Louis area, the difference is in the cost of housing," Horner said. "The insurance cost for homeowners may be a little cheaper here. We also have a good ISO rating with fire districts, which helps. The other factor would be our utility costs, which with Barry Electric, are cheaper compared to other electric companies in Missouri and northwest Arkansas. We're fortunate to have them. They've always been run in a very conservative, economic manner, and they've always kept costs down and rate increases at a minimum."

Another factor may be the price of gasoline.

"When they show price of gas nationwide, usually we are cheaper here than the national average," Horner said. "But, I really think it comes down to two factors, housing and the cost of electricity."

In the study for Barry County, cost-of-living came in at $16,458, and Social Security income at $17,691. On a national level, Barry County was ranked 211th.

Camden County came in first in the state; Benton, second; Ralls, third; Stone, fourth; and Osage County, fifth. Although Barry County came in at the No. 6 slot, it wasn't far behind the first contender. Camden's cost-of-living came in at $16,898, and Social Security income, at $19,124.
For full study results, people can visit http://tinyurl.com/zgaxtmu.

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