Florida Governor Rick Scott has claimed that the Florida economy is doing better than the rest of the nation and business publications, like Florida Trend, have proclaimed, “Florida is back!”
The headlines sound great but the facts tell another story.
A recent study by Florida International University’s Research Institute on Social and Economic Policy found that between 2000 and 2012 the standard of living declined for Florida’s middle-class.
The good news is that the size of Florida’s economy increased by more than $200 billion between 2000 and 2012.
The bad news is that Florida’s employment rate and standard of living declined over this same time. Although worker productivity increased, wages fell. While Floridians’ income was going down, consumer prices went up by more than 30 percent. Inequality expanded and the number of Floridians living below the poverty line increased by nearly 50 percent.
According to the study’s authors, “the continuing decline in wages will mean lower consumer spending” and lower economic growth, which will delay an economic recovery. The study found that these “declines in standard of living negatively impact future growth” and “continue to erode the middle class.”
The “State of Working Florida 2013” study found that Florida’s main employers were in low wage industries like retail, food service, waste management and tourism. It noted that while workers were more productive, their employment options and pay declined.
Between 2000 and 2012 long-term unemployment increased by more than 300 percent and those working part-time, but looking for full-time work, increased by 139 percent. In addition, the annual unemployment rate more than doubled.
Florida’s economic performance under Republican rule has been bleak in terms of employment, wages and standard of living. Governor Scott’s attempts ignore this larger reality may be good politics, but it does not change the numbers.