Friday, June 22, 2018
Politics

How many counties are doing better now than before recession? EFI is stumped

The question from Florida Chamber of Commerce chief economist Jerry Parrish seemed innocent enough for the quarterly board meeting of Enterprise Florida, the state’s business and government partnership: How many counties have more jobs now than before the recession?

The audience of executives was stumped on Thursday. Parrish had to ask it twice and then someone volunteered an answer: 50.

"Wrong," responded Parrish.

The real number of counties that have more jobs today than they had before the Great Recession "is stunning," he admitted to the group that has pegged its future and fate on job creation in Florida. 

The number is 31.

That leaves 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.

"Florida’s recession started a lot earlier, ended a lot later," Parrish told the crowd in the ballroom of the Doubletree Hotel in Tallahassee. "It was double the depth" of the national average.

What’s more troubling, he warned, is that his projections are that Florida will produce 54,000 fewer jobs in 2017 than it did in 2016. An interactive map on the Florida Chamber website shows that the 215,400 jobs created to date is lower than last year’s level of 244,000 as every county but nine has seen job losses. The metro areas of South Florida, Orlando and Tampa Bay have been the only bright spots in terms of job growth.

"It’s a concerning trend," Parrish admitted. "We may have peaked."

This is the hard data Enterprise Florida faces as it fights for its survival. The budget handed to Scott on Wednesday includes $16 million in funding for Enterprise Florida in the 2017-18 fiscal year, down from $23.5 million for the current year. The biggest reduction would be in the agency’s marketing programs which attempt to make companies aware of Florida’s business climate.

For the second year in a row, legislators rejected the governor’s request for $200 million for the Quick Action Closing Fund to award up-front incentives for major corporate relocations and expansions. House Speaker Richard Corcoran has called the incentives "corporate welfare."

Parrish acknowledged that part of Florida’s problem is its lack of industry diversification, ranking 24th nationwide. The benefits of diversification are that while some sectors suffer, others remain strong, he said.

Mark Wilson, president and CEO of the Florida Chamber said this data doesn’t go over well when they take their slide show on the road to community groups around the state.

"When they see the numbers that their community has fewer jobs today than they had 10 years ago, you have people almost getting in fistfights," he said. "They didn’t know this number ... People are realizing that this data is real."

He noted that the chamber keeps track of data on a scorecard on its web site. "Only 54 percent of our third graders are reading at grade level," he added.

There is nothing new about this data, however. An economic analysis compiled for the Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times Tallahassee Bureau by Florida International University’s Metropolitan Center and published in October showed that in 40 of the state’s 67 counties there were fewer people working in 2015 than were working in 2007. Only South and Central Florida’s metropolitan areas have seen employment levels return to — or exceed — pre-recession levels.

The analysis also found that although many jobs have returned since the Great Recession, the new jobs are paying workers significantly less than the jobs they replaced, and the rebound has been dramatically uneven across the state. From 2007 to 2015, only 7 of the 39 Florida counties with reliable data experienced an increase in household income.

Stan Connally, president and CEO of Gulf Power and vice president of Enterprise Florida, noted that many at the board meeting had their "fingerprints" on the economic recovery that has taken place to restore many of the jobs.

But, he asked: "Can we do more under our watch? There are macro economic things that are not under our control, but I think a lot goes back to leadership." He urged them all to stay engaged.

Read more from our analysis here: Recession still has Floridians reeling and anxious about election

Comments
Six candidates waltz into their seats as qualifying ends. The rest still have a fight

Six candidates waltz into their seats as qualifying ends. The rest still have a fight

Six local candidates across Tampa Bay — all county commissioners and city council members — effectively won their elections Friday by default: No one ran against them.The rest still have a fight.Some will square off in an August 28 primary. Others wi...
Updated: 14 minutes ago
Former Tampa police corporal qualifies as Democrat to run for Hillsborough sheriff

Former Tampa police corporal qualifies as Democrat to run for Hillsborough sheriff

TAMPA — A Democrat has officially joined the race for Hillsborough County sheriff.Gary Pruitt, a 50-year-old former Tampa police corporal who now works as director of security at a local mall, qualified Friday to challenge Republican Sheriff Chad Chr...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Carlton: Could anything be more partisan than going nonpartisan?

Carlton: Could anything be more partisan than going nonpartisan?

So Hillsborough County commissioners — most of them, anyway — want voters to consider dropping political parties from certain elections, making those races nonpartisan instead.This would mean when you go to vote in those elections, you won’t know if ...
Published: 06/22/18
Hotel renovator approved by council to restore New Port Richey’s Hacienda Hotel

Hotel renovator approved by council to restore New Port Richey’s Hacienda Hotel

NEW PORT RICHEY — A seasoned historic hotel renovator and operator is going to take a crack at getting New Port Richey’s city-owned Hacienda Hotel back into action. New Port Richey City Council members, acting as the Community Redevelopment Agency, u...
Published: 06/20/18
Pope Francis criticizes Trump’s family-separation policy on migrants, says ‘populism is not the solution’

Pope Francis criticizes Trump’s family-separation policy on migrants, says ‘populism is not the solution’

VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis stepped into a growing controversy over President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, criticizing the separation of migrant families at the U.S.-Mexican border and saying that "populism" and "creating psychosis" are not t...
Published: 06/20/18
Raburn out in State House 57 race. Now who’s in?

Raburn out in State House 57 race. Now who’s in?

Well, that didn’t last long.U.S. Army veteran Michael Sean McCoy filed to run as the Republican candidate in the State House, District 57 race just hours after incumbent State Rep. Jake Raburn, R-Lithia, announced he was stepping down.McCoy, who live...
Published: 06/19/18
Updated: 06/21/18
Romano: A Tampa Bay ‘superstar’ caught in the crosshairs of Trump’s border policy

Romano: A Tampa Bay ‘superstar’ caught in the crosshairs of Trump’s border policy

At this moment, she is Tampa Bay’s most influential export. A smart, accomplished and powerful attorney making life-altering decisions on an international stage.But what of tomorrow? And the day after?When the story of President Donald Trump’s border...
Published: 06/19/18
‘Don’t leave me, Mom’: Detainee tells of separation from son

‘Don’t leave me, Mom’: Detainee tells of separation from son

SEATTLE — The call came at mealtime — an anonymous threat demanding $5,000 or her son’s life. So Blanca Orantes-Lopez, her 8-year-old boy and his father packed up and left the Pacific surfing town of Puerto La Libertad in El Salvador and headed for t...
Published: 06/19/18
Trump defiant as border crisis escalates, prepares to lobby House GOP on immigration bills

Trump defiant as border crisis escalates, prepares to lobby House GOP on immigration bills

WASHINGTON - As he prepared to visit Capitol Hill, President Donald Trump on Tuesday continued to insist that Congress produce comprehensive immigration legislation, while anxious Republicans explored a narrower fix to the administration policy of se...
Published: 06/19/18
Trump, GOP to huddle as outrage builds over border policy

Trump, GOP to huddle as outrage builds over border policy

WASHINGTON (AP) — Calls are mounting on Capitol Hill for the Trump administration to end the separation of families at the southern border ahead of a visit from President Donald Trump to discuss legislation.Trump’s meeting late Tuesday afternoon with...
Published: 06/19/18