Florida household income fell 2.9 percent in 2011, signaling recovery remains longer-term struggle
On Wednesday, U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Hilda Solis unveiled a $15 million grant for a group of state colleges led by St. Petersburg College to invest in advanced manufacturing training to help boost job opportunities and -- in theory -- household income. Above, from left, SPC president Bill Law, SPC associate engineering/tech dean Brad Jenkins and Secretary Solis tour SPC's emerging technology training center on the college's Clearwater campus. Photo: Will Vragovic, Tampa Bay Times.
Wake up and good morning. The income of the typical Florida family dropped 2.9 percent last year, one of the sharpest reminders that the deflated state economy remains marked by high unemployment, lower-wage jobs and financially challenged to spend its way out of its problems.
That decline in Florida's media household income appears in Census Bureau data scheduled for release today and reported here by the Wall Street Journal. Florida is one of 18 states to see its median household income -- the amount at which half the state households make more and half make less -- decline in 2011 from the previous year.
Nationally, median income fell by 1.3 percent to $50,502 in 2011. Florida's median household income is lower and fell faster than the country's as a whole. It is the latest, significant signal that the Florida economic rebound remains on a slower, less competitive track despite the increasingly dogmatic and in-denial insistence from Florida Gov. Rick Scott that shrinking unemployment is a sign of his success in leading the state. Read more here about the testy exchange between former Tampa Bay Times reporter Michael Bender (now with Bloomberg News) and Gov. Scott on the real reasons jobless numbers appear lower.
The Wall Street Journal story on falling household income cites 57-year-old Donna Durham of Lakeland, Fla., who now makes $2 an hour less than she did before the recession as a machine operator at an embroidery shop. She's survived on part-time jobs. And a 2009 diploma earned at a technical school that trained her to design architectural blueprints has not helped. As Durham told the Journal, those jobs were taken by laid-off engineers settling for lower-wage jobs.
(There's a cautionary tale in assuming retraining in a technical skill will translate into getting a new or better job. On Wednesday, a $15 million federal grant went to a group of 12 community colleges and 4-year schools to help develop advanced manufacturing training programs. Read my column here.)
In fact, the Lakeland-Winter Haven region of Florida saw a whopping 5 percent drop in its median household income to $40,272. That's the steepest decline of any larger metro area in Florida, the Journal reports.
-- Robert Trigaux, Business Columnist, Tampa Bay Times