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News

Nonpartisan report claims Florida’s unemployment is rising, not falling

Gov. Scott’s PR machine starts spinning in apparent attempt to refute reality

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7.1 PERCENT

REPORTED UNEMPLOYMENT RATE FOR FLORIDA AS OF JULY 2013, DOWN FROM 9.4 PERCENT IN DECEMBER 2011

 

515,100

THE NUMBER OF JOBS STILL REQUIRED IN FLORIDA TO MATCH PEAK LEVELS DURING THE ECONOMIC BOOM PRECEDING THE RECESSION

 

47.8 PERCENT

PORTION OF THE 2.3 PERCENT DROP IN FLORIDA’S UNEMPLOYMENT RATE THAT CAN BE ATTRIBUTED TO PEOPLE LEAVING THE WORKFORCE OR DELAYING ENTRY

 

“WITH FLORIDA’S POPULARITY AMONGST RETIREES AND THE AGING BABY-BOOMER POPULATION, RETIREMENT IS CERTAINLY AN IMPORTANT FACTOR THAT CONTRIBUTES TO A DECLINE IN THE LABOR FORCE, IN ADDITION TO THOSE LEAVING THE LABOR FORCE TO CONTINUE EDUCATION”

– GOV. RICK SCOTT’S CHIEF ECONOMIST REBECCA RUST IN a SEPT. 5 MEMO
– Sources: Miami Herald, edr.state.fl.us

NEGATIVE

Because everything political has devolved into a sinister shade of opposite day lately – Republicans hate war; Obamacare isn’t happening – it should only make sense that the very same economic arguments so readily foisted upon the Obama administration in response to claims of economic recovery and job creation would eventually trickle down to our own “It’s Working” chrome-dome of gubernatorial inadequacy. Sure, the unemployment number is decreasing, see, but that doesn’t include the unquantifiable haze of everybody who has just given up, they say, as the national unemployment rate continues to dip to its lowest point (7.3 percent in August) since December 2008. You can’t win this, commie!

Same goes for Florida, right? Not if the marketing machine is to be believed. Gov. Rick Scott has prided himself – all two and a half years of his shambolic tenure – on the notion that he has the secret magic dust (tax cuts and incentives, basically) that actually makes jobs happen in the Sunshine State, virtually in spite of any federal efforts to improve the economy. And, by utilizing his own cherry-picked employment statistics, Scott has somehow managed to cling to his re-election hood ornament: Unemployment is lower in Florida (7.1 percent) than it is nationally. We’re bucking trends, showing the man, the story goes; never mind that everyone in the state is scraping two pennies together to make copper sandwiches for dinner before racing out to Walmart to get arrested while protesting for a living wage or picketing outside Orlando Health headquarters and threatening to start a union because of drastic pay cuts. It’s working, and we should just be glad that we are, too.

Except many of us aren’t, apparently. On Sept. 4, the state’s nonpartisan Office of Economic and Demographic Research released a wide-ranging – largely boring – report on Florida’s economic health. Within its 108 pages was this little thorn of painful truth: “If job creation has been relatively stable, why has Florida seen a marked decline in its unemployment rate? The answer lies in the labor force participation rate. The reported unemployment rate has dropped from 9.4 percent to 7.1 percent from December 2011 to July 2013, a change of 2.3 percentage points. If the participation rate had held steady since December 2011 when the labor force peaked, the unemployment rate would have been 8.2 percent. This indicates that 47.8 percent of the drop in the unemployment rate is due to people dropping out of the labor force or delaying entrance.”

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