Heading into the November general election, Gov. Rick Scott's promise to create more than 700,000 jobs in seven years has either suffered a hiccup or continues unabated, depending on your point of view.
July jobs numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show Florida lost 1,600 jobs last month — or gained 2,100, if you ask Scott. He has consistently ignored losses in government employment and touted private-sector growth. The state has lost 25,400 government jobs during Scott's term, U.S. Labor Department economist Timothy Ewing told PolitiFact Florida.
On Aug. 15, the day the most recent numbers were released, his office crowed about the state's private businesses adding 620,300 jobs since December 2010. It also noted the unemployment rate was down to 6.2 percent.
The Scott-O-Meter only counts jobs since Scott took office in January 2011, and is calculated using BLS numbers for seasonally adjusted, nonfarm work that includes changes in government employment. We put the total through July at 594,900, still short of the 700,000 goal.
Actually, that should be the 1.7 million goal. Scott's original 7-7-7 plan promised to create 700,000 jobs in addition to the 1 million jobs state economists predicted Florida would add by 2017, with or without policy changes in Tallahassee. We've previously noted that for Scott to make good on his promise, Florida would need to create 20,238 jobs a month, every month, for 84 straight months. In Scott's first 43 months in office, Florida created that many jobs in a month only 11 times.
One major snag in the upward climb was from April to May this year, when the state lost 17,200 jobs, the largest statewide drop in the United States, and the unemployment rate ticked up 0.1 percent. Economists said the change possibly reflected a late Easter and a cold winter, which brought tourists that inflated April leisure and hospitality payrolls. The drop was bookended with stronger than usual growth in April and June.
Economists revise these numbers each year based on census data pooled from payroll taxes, so the totals typically change as the picture becomes clearer.
Experts say it's hard to tell how much influence a governor has on the job creation process, and it may take years to find out whether policies have had any effect on job totals at all.
Scott is still a long way away from his stated target, but job creation does continue to climb. We continue to rate this promise In The Works.
Read more at PolitiFact.com/florida.