Make us your home page
Instagram

Trend or blip? Earnings of Floridians slipping this year

Let's call this the Case of the Low Hanging Fruit.

Florida may have added tens of thousands of jobs since the start of 2011, but so far they tend to be lower-paying opportunities, many of them in the tourism industry.

Nothing wrong with that. We like tourism jobs. Visit Florida, the state tourism bureau, says 21.2 million people visited the state in the second quarter of this year. That's a 6.9 percent gain over the same period last year and a bright light in Florida's bruised business world. The tourism increase outpaced the rest of the United States by more than 1 percentage point.

But if motel-hotel help or servers are mostly what's in the state's employment pipeline, then we have a problem.

From January through May of this year, the average working Floridian's seen about a 3 percent drop in weekly earnings, according to labor data. On average, a working Floridian earned $770.77 per week in January but by June received less: $749.30. The same is true for those working in the Tampa Bay market. They earned on average $796.22 in January and are now paid $783.31.

That's $1,100 less a year for the average working Floridian, more than a week's earnings lost. On the statewide average, it is the difference between earning $40,080 and $38,964 per year.

So here's the big question:

Are the bumper crop of lower-paying jobs simply the first to be revived as we climb out of Florida's recession? Or is the state heading for a longer-term decline in earnings that will drop the Sunshine State even further below the national pay average?

There may be cause for concern. In February, St. Petersburg Times business writer Jeff Harrington analyzed jobs and income data over the past year and found that the state had not only stalled in its mission to become a higher-wage state. It had gone backward.

Harrington found that the average pay for a lost job among the top five hardest-hit industries was $49,884. Meanwhile, the average pay for industries creating the most jobs was starkly lower at $34,239.

Some of this year's biggest layoffs hit Florida's Space Coast where the space industry suffered job losses involving well-paid engineers and technicians.

Tracking job gains and losses is not easy. Here in Tampa Bay, PricewaterhouseCoopers laid off several hundred workers, mostly information technology positions, and sent some jobs overseas while outsourcing others that remained in this country. Yet, as of early this month, the firm said it had 98 unfilled positions in Tampa.

Is Florida simply suffering from a broader trend of the recession? Among much of its chief economic competition, a spot check suggests not. In Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina, for example, average worker earnings between January and May increased nearly 2 percent, 1 percent and 4 percent, respectively. In Texas, earnings were flat. (Kudos to the Broward-Palm Beach New Times for its coverage on this topic.)

Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who took office in January on a campaign of getting people back to work, is clearly enjoying a boost in new jobs in the Sunshine State. What's less transparent is whether his political promises will be met with the easy pickings of cheap, low-hanging jobs and a lower standard of living.

Robert Trigaux can be reached at trigaux@sptimes.com.

Trend or blip? Earnings of Floridians slipping this year 08/17/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 17, 2011 8:10pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Trigaux: How Moffitt Cancer's M2Gen startup won $75 million from Hearst

    Business

    TAMPA — A Moffitt Cancer Center spin-off that's building a massive genetic data base of individual patient cancer information just caught the attention of a deep-pocketed health care investor.

    Richard P. Malloch is the president of Hearst Business Media, which is announcing a $75 million investment in M2Gen, the for-profit cancer informatics unit spun off by Tampa's Moffitt Cancer Center. Malloch's job is to find innovative investments for the Hearst family fortune. A substantial amount has been invested in health care, financial and the transportation and logistics industries.
  2. Three-hour police standoff ends, thanks to a cigarette

    News

    TAMPA — A man threatening to harm himself was arrested by Tampa police on Tuesday after a three-hour standoff.

  3. Another Hollywood nursing home resident dies. It's the 9th in post-Irma tragedy.

    State Roundup

    The Broward County Medical Examiner's office is investigating another death of a resident of the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills — the ninth blamed on the failure of a cooling system that became a stifling deathtrap three days after Irma hit.

    Carlos Canal, pictured at 47 years old, came to Miami from Cuba in 1960. Above is his citizenship photo. [Courtesy of Lily Schwartz]
  4. Despite Hurricane Irma, Hillsborough remains on pace to unlock hotel tax that could pay for Rays ballpark

    Tourism

    TAMPA — Despite the threat of a catastrophic storm, it was business as usual at many Hillsborough County hotels in the days before Hurricane Irma bore down on the Tampa Bay region.

    The Grand Hyatt near TIA closed during Hurricane Irma, but many other Hillsborough hotels were open and saw an influx.
  5. New Graham-Cassidy health care plan stumbles under opposition from governors

    Nation

    WASHINGTON — The suddenly resurgent Republican effort to undo the Affordable Care Act was dealt a blow on Tuesday when a bipartisan group of governors came out against a proposal gaining steam in the Senate.

    Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., joined by, from left, Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., speaks to reporters as he pushes a last-ditch effort to uproot former President Barack Obama's health care law, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. To win, 50 of the 52 GOP senators must back it -- a margin they failed to reach when the chamber rejected the effort in July. [/J. Scott Applewhite | Associated Press]