Survey: Pessimism still high on Florida's future
Wake up and good morning. It should come as absolutely no surprise that Leadership Florida's annual Sunshine State Survey reveals a majority of residents believe the state is worse off than it was five years ago. Duh... Who did not feel Florida was more together in 2006 -- pre-housing bubble and when state unemployment was way under 4 percent! -- than 2011?
What is genuinely revealing in the survey, however is that an even greater margin believe things will stay the same or might actually get worse in the next five years. The survey found 63 percent of respondents say the state is worse off than five years ago, but 65 percent say things will stay the same or get worse.
Welcome to Florida's greatest challenge -- Floridians' fatigue, and convincing residents that the state is not caught in an economic quicksand that we can't get out of for years to come. (Memo to Gov. Scott: Good luck.)
1. While 52 percent of Floridians identify jobs and the economy as the most important issue facing the state, 55 percent say the state is doing poorly at creating new jobs. That's the highest number since Leadership Florida began its tracking poll in 2008. Those results, of course, may change if Gov. Scott, with his focus on "creating" 700,000 Florida jobs in seven years, can show some early delivery on that promise.
2. 52 percent of Floridians say to get rid of ineffective teachers. Hmmm.... Does that mean 48 percent say keep ineffective teachers? I doubt it. Who does not want to get rid of anybody doing anything in effectively? Wait... I stand corrected. We did vote in these state legislators.
3. 21 percent of Floridians now say they are seriously considering moving out of the state. That's up from 17 percent just one year ago. Yeah, they're "considering" moving -- if only they were not underwater in their mortgage. I don't see a mass exodus out of Florida.
4. 65 percent of Floridians say their state government spends tax revenue in a relatively wasteful manner, up from 54 percent in 2010 and 45 percent in 2008. If that's true, looks like Gov. Scott can cut government with relatively little blowback, right?
5. 69 percent of Floridians believe community business leaders do what is right for the state only "some of the time" or "never." Hey, that's the good news. Faith in most leadership these days, frankly, stinks. The survey finds 71 percent, 77 percent and 77 percent say the same thing about their local, state and federal government leaders, respectively.
It should be noted that even in 2006, when the first Sunshine State survey was conducted, there were warning signs of trouble ahead. In that survey, more Floridians believed the state would be a worse place to live in five years than those who believe it would be better. However, more Floridians then believed their neighborhood would be a better place to live in five years, and more than 60 percent would still tell a friend to move to Florida.
Here's a good one from the 2006 survey: 59 percent said the lack of affordable housing is a serious problem for current Florida residents. Now it's the lack of "sellable" housing.
Compare the 2006 survey results here.
-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist