Florida's Unemployment Rate Controversy

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The News Service of Florida - July 19, 2012

State economists have cast a cloud over Florida's sunny economy recovery picture, releasing data showing nearly 70 percent of the drop in the state's unemployment rate since December has been due to discouraged workers. The Legislative Office of Economic and Demographic Research estimated in a report Tuesday that Florida's unemployment rate of 8.6 percent would be 9.5 percent if workers who have stopped looking for jobs were added to the picture. The rate would still be lower than the 9.9 percent posted in December. The figures provide some analytical backup to anecdotal information that much of the state and national recovery is due to a smaller labor force and not to job growth. Florida releases its June unemployment rate on Friday.


July 18, 2012

Rick Scott ran for governor pledging to create 700,000 jobs in seven years. Now, a year-and-a-half into the job, and by his own account, he's on track to do exactly that.

Rick Scott is anything if not focused. From his campaign in 2010.

To virtually every public appearance as governor.

Florida got to work, and each Floridian deserves the credit.

Scott's only big priority is to create jobs, and he's using Florida's unemployment rate as his track record.

It now stands at 8.6 percent, down by three points since the governor took office.

But a new report by state economists is casting doubt on the accuracy of that number.

The report finds most of the decline in the unemployment rate is because more of Florida's unemployed aren't being counted.

A big reason for that, many of them are no longer eligible for unemployment benefits because of tough new guidelines passed by the GOP legislature and signed into law by the governor.

But, when asked about the impact of his policy, he's as upbeat as ever.
"This is the land of opportunity. This is where I can live my version of the American dream, and that version is, I can get a job, I can support my family, I can have children, make sure that they can get a great education, so I think it's a real positive when people are able to get a job," said Scott.

Since taking office, the governor's tried to put a new face on Florida's jobs picture, even going so far as to change the name and logo of the agency that doles out unemployment checks.

But, critics call the new report evidence of a very bold and blatant act of deception.

Labor organizer Rich Templin says he's not surprised to hear the economists say if *everybody* out of a job were counted, the unemployment rate would be nearly one point higher, at 9.5 percent.

When people who have been laid off find out they're not eligible for unemployment, all too often, they call him.

"It's been real easy over the past two years to beat up on the unemployed. It's been real easy over the past two years to say, 'they need to be drug tested' or they need this or they need that, and I think that is his overall economic policy, and it's just been a failure," said Templin.

Even if that's true, the governor's been winning the day by pointing to pointing to that plummeting line, a line we now know may not be going down nearly as far.

Since moving into the governor's mansion, Scott has scaled back his '700-thousand jobs' pledge.

During his campaign, he said those jobs would be on top of what economists predicted would be around one-million jobs that would come with the economic recovery.

But now, the governor says 700-thousand jobs means just that, and *not* one-point-seven *million*.

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