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PolitiFact Florida | Tampa Bay Times
Sorting out the truth in state politics

PolitiFact Florida: Gov. Rick Scott has work to do to keep jobs promise

Gov. Rick Scott is claiming Florida has added more than 1 million new jobs since he took office, a benchmark he seized to push his legislative agenda for 2016.

"Thanks to our focus on cutting taxes and making it easier for job creators to succeed, our businesses are creating jobs faster than we ever expected," Scott said in a news release about November jobs figures. "Even though today's news is great, we have to continue to diversify our economy by cutting $1 billion in taxes and creating the Florida Enterprise Fund so Florida can be FIRST for jobs."

Scott is using the million-job threshold — and a statewide bus tour tied to reaching that number — to underscore that he has met a campaign promise for job creation.

The truth is he isn't really there yet.

Scott pledged in the 2010 gubernatorial race to follow seven steps to create 700,000 jobs in seven years. The campaign promise is one of 57 that PolitiFact Florida monitors on the Scott-O-Meter. Each promise is assessed and rated on the Scott-O-Meter as Promise Kept, Compromise, In the Works, Stalled or Promise Broken.

Scott's office did not want to comment for this Scott-O-Meter update, but they have been using job figures to argue Scott has guided the state out of the recession.

Florida reached 700,000 new jobs not long after Scott won re-election in 2014.

But Scott said in 2010 that his program would create those 700,000 on top of the 1 million jobs state economists predicted Florida would add by 2017, no matter what policies came out of Tallahassee. He later denied saying that.

As far as we're concerned, Florida has to create 1.7 million jobs for Scott to keep his promise.

When the Scott-O-Meter started running on this promise, that meant the state needed to add 20,238 jobs a month, every month, for 84 straight months. That's happened 23 times since Scott took office in January 2011.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, private businesses added 1,011,800 jobs in Florida between the end of December 2010 and November 2015.

We need to point out that Scott is counting only private jobs and he never includes government positions in his jobs totals. He even said he'd cut the state's workforce by 5 percent, something we've rated a Promise Kept.

We count them, however, because those jobs across federal, state and local governments still mean a paycheck to the people who have them. Government jobs counted in this category include everyone from teachers to firefighters to the number taker at the tax collector's office.

The federal data show that 27,300 government jobs have been lost since Scott took office. When we factor in those losses, the total jobs picture shows 984,500 net new jobs in five years, a bit less than 1 million.

These new jobs haven't been the highest-paying, either. Three industries that tend to favor lower-wage positions accounted for 134,800 jobs: education and health services; trade, transportation and utilities (including retail); and leisure and hospitality.

There is some recognition from the administration that the jobs being created aren't necessarily high-paying, sustainable positions. In an interview with the Tampa Bay Times in December, outgoing director of the Department of Economic Opportunity Jesse Panuccio said Scott has started to focus on quality over quantity.

"If you've been listening to the governor in recent months, he's really starting to talk about economic diversity," Panuccio said.

The quality of the positions are more important "now that we've recovered from the recession," he said.

But jobs are still being created, and we will continue to track this promise until Scott reaches his previously stated goal of 1.7 million. We rate this promise In The Works.

Contact Joshua Gillin at jgillin@tampabay.com. Follow @jpgillin.

PolitiFact Florida: Gov. Rick Scott has work to do to keep jobs promise 12/31/15 [Last modified: Sunday, January 3, 2016 9:34pm]
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