After 7 years under Rick Scott, over half the counties in Florida are worse off than before the recession

There’s no denying it, while the rest of the country was digging its way out of the recession, recovery in Florida under Scott has been abysmal, lagging behind the national average and in many counties getting worse:

“While the national employment growth rate was 3 percent, Florida's was only 1.2 percent from 2007 to 2015. In 40 of Florida's 67 counties, total employment levels decreased from 2007 to 2015, meaning jobs lost during the recession have not been replaced.” [Miami Herald, 10/13/16]

“During the same time period, the poverty rate increased in the majority of Florida counties at a greater pace than the nation.” [Politifact, 2/22/17]

The simple fact is jobs haven’t returned in many places in Florida - especially in rural areas where most families are actually worse off today than they were 10 years ago. For those who haven’t given up looking for work, poverty-level wages, the rising cost-of-living and a widespread lack of higher-paying jobs have blocked Floridians from recovering what they lost during the recession.

“36 counties that still have not returned to pre-recession employment levels, a sign of an uneven and incomplete recovery in an era when Gov. Rick Scott has made job creation his singular focus.” [Miami Herald, 6/1/17]


“State of the Working Poor”

Under Rick Scott, Florida has become a state of the working poor - meaning nearly half of Florida households struggle to pay for basic necessities like food, housing and transportation. Even in counties where jobs have returned, many are low-wage jobs or underemployment leaves millions of families still struggling to make ends meet. And that number has been rising:

The study suggests that 3.3 million households across Florida can be labeled as working poor homes. That’s 45 percent of the state population. Compare this to the 2.6 million working poor tallied in 2014 and the cause for concern becomes apparent.
— Orlando Weekly, 2/27/17

“At the service station where Michelle Woodward works, a customer once bought 80 cents worth of gas on a credit card. Woodward isn’t as bad off as that customer, although some days it feels that way...During this school year, the Star-Banner is shining a spotlight on 'The 31 Percent.' That’s the percentage of Marion County children who live in poverty. It was just over 21 percent 10 years ago.” [Ocala Star Banner, 10/8/17]

“One of every three people in Northeast Florida — Baker, Clay, Duval, Nassau and St. Johns counties — struggle to make ends meet. They are the so-called working poor who, despite having jobs, struggle to afford the basic, minimum necessities of housing, food, child care, health care and transportation.” [Florida Times Union, 10/13/17]

“One in three Sarasota County households — 59,332 total — cannot afford to pay for basic living expenses, according to United Way data that looks beyond federal poverty statistics and attempts to encapsulate the struggles of low wage workers.” [The Herald Tribune, 8/24/17]

“One in four Escambia County children live below the poverty line, which if left unchecked could threaten their long-term odds of success...Malcolm Thomas, superintendent of the Escambia County School District, said education is just 'one leg' of a stool that props children up to success, and that the other two legs, health and financial stability, are still an issue for many local families.” [Pensacola News-Journal, 1/10/17]

“Though the adults may be working, these families 'struggle to afford basic household necessities.' According to the new report, nearly 30 percent of all Florida households in 2015 were in that ALICE [Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained Employee] category. Another 14.5 percent lived in poverty. Combined, that covers nearly half of the state’s residents.  At 44 percent, Broward’s number aligns with the statewide figure. Palm Beach is a bit better, at 40 percent. In Miami-Dade, the combined total is a staggering 61 percent.” [Sun Sentinel Editorial Board, 10/19/17]


Low Wage Jobs - a Centerpiece of Rick’s Recession

The widespread lack of high-paying jobs and stagnant wages throughout the state blocks millions of families across Florida from digging out of Rick’s Recession. It doesn’t matter how many low-wage jobs are created when at the end of the day families - no matter how long or hard they work - lack the income to afford basic living necessities, much less save for the future.

“Low-wage jobs in Florida are one of the main reasons families live in poverty or near poverty, according to a new study by Florida International University...While unemployment numbers are down statewide, that has not made a dent in income disparity across the state. According to the study, many of the new jobs being created are low-wage jobs. In 2016, 20 percent of Florida workers earned $10 or less an hour. As a result of so many low-wage jobs, the study found more families are living in economic insecurity.” [WLRN, 9/4/17]

“There are still too many low-wage jobs that are resulting in workers living near poverty levels. Household incomes are below pre-recession levels, according to the 2017 ‘State of Working Florida’ report...Florida’s median wage earners — or those in the middle -- are making just over $16 an hour, which is ‘the lowest that we have experienced in past 11 years,’ Bustamonte said. ‘There’s no sign that’s going to shift,’ he said.” [Sun Sentinel, 8/31/2017]

"'With few good jobs, the Florida economy is promoting low-wage and low-quality jobs at the expense of workers' economic security,' the report states. Among its recommendations? Raise the state minimum wage. That would not only boost income but encourage more Floridians who are not working to re-enter the labor force...We're falling behind.” [Tampa Bay Times, 9/4/17]

“Florida’s big cities have the lowest paying urban jobs in America, according to a recently released federal survey...Orlando has had the lowest median pay for several years running...Fort Lauderdale, Tampa-St. Petersburg and Jacksonville also were among the lowest seven in the country in 2015 when it comes to median pay for all surveyed jobs, according to the BLS numbers released this spring. Just San Antonio [third] and Las Vegas [fifth] join the Sunshine State cities in the bottom tier.” [Florida Politics, 7/7/16]


Unaffordable Housing

The future also hasn’t looked any brighter under Governor Scott. Affordable Housing is in a near crisis under Scott. The exorbitant cost of housing has left millions of Florida households struggling to get by as well as a rapidly rising homeless population. The Governor's response has been to funnel tens of millions out of affordable housing trust funds.

“The family’s situation is all too common for many residents of Volusia and Flagler counties who live paycheck to paycheck. Numbers show 57 percent of renters in the two counties are “cost-burdened,” meaning they pay more for rent and utilities than they can comfortably afford” [Daytona Beach News Journal, 10/28/17]

“In Escambia County, there are roughly 800 low-income housing units between public housing and the Local Housing Authority. Singh said that all are currently occupied and the wait list for a home is roughly 4,000...affordable housing in general is hard to come by. In Escambia County one in two rental households are considered cost burden. That means they spend a third or more of their income on rent." [WEARTV,5/8/17]

“Metro Orlando, long considered an affordable housing market, has the nation's greatest shortage of rentals for extremely low-income tenants, a new study shows.  Orlando, in a tie with Las Vegas, ranked worst nationally for availability of apartments that meet the needs of its most struggling group of renters” [Orlando Sentinel, 3/18/16]

“Over the past year, rental prices in Tampa have jumped 4 percent, almost double the national rate and almost four times the Florida rate, according to Apartmentlist.com.” [Tampa Bay Times, 10/4/16]


Funneling Money Out Of Public Schools

Education is also a cornerstone to prosperity for future generations, and the chances a Florida child has for success should not depend on winning a charter lottery, being able to afford private school, or living in the right zip code. Yet Scott’s policies have meant funneling hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars out of the public schools attended by a majority of Florida’s children and into private, for-profit charter schools. Most recently Scott signed HB 7069, which almost every parent, teacher and newspaper asked the Governor to veto:

How bad is HB 7069? Palm Beach County School Superintendent Robert Avossa told the Sun Sentinel Editorial Board, ‘It’s the single largest piece of legislation to dismantle public education that I’ve ever seen.’
— Sun Sentinel Editorial, 6/5/17

“The governor needs to see House Bill 7069, for the disaster that it is — and, more important, the disaster it will mean for public-school students statewide...it’s a cynical budget that pits public schools against charter schools — an increasingly deep-pocketed industry, one to which legislative leaders pander.” [Miami Herald Editorial, 5/25/17]

Added together, Florida has become one of the least upwardly mobile states in America.