PolitiFact Florida: Is Florida’s economy propped up by low-wage jobs? Gillum says yes

Andrew Gillum, the Democratic nominee for governor of Florida who is running as a progressive, looks out over Miami from the elevator on his way to a roundtable meeting with members of the Puerto Rican community at the Borinquen Health Care Center, Sept. 21, 2018. Gillum supports higher corporate taxes and Medicare for all. He also has a lobbyist as a top adviser and, as mayor of Tallahassee, was on the payroll of a consultant. (Scott McIntyre/The New York Times) XNYT3
Andrew Gillum, the Democratic nominee for governor of Florida who is running as a progressive, looks out over Miami from the elevator on his way to a roundtable meeting with members of the Puerto Rican community at the Borinquen Health Care Center, Sept. 21, 2018. Gillum supports higher corporate taxes and Medicare for all. He also has a lobbyist as a top adviser and, as mayor of Tallahassee, was on the payroll of a consultant. (Scott McIntyre/The New York Times) XNYT3
Published October 18 2018
Updated October 18 2018

The statement

Florida’s economy "is largely propped up on low-wage work."

Andrew Gillum, candidate for Florida governor, Sept. 30 in an interview

The ruling

Florida has experienced job growth during Republican Gov. Rick Scott’s two terms, but the Democratic candidate looking to replace him questions the quality of those new positions.

In an interview on CBS Miami’s Facing South Florida, host Jim DeFede asked Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum what he thought of Florida’s economy.

"I give him credit for an economy that is largely propped up on low-wage work," Gillum said. "Of course you’ve got a low unemployment rate when people have got to work two and three jobs just to make ends meet."

Here, we’ll focus on Gillum’s first claim: Florida’s economy is largely propped up on low-wage work.

Florida does have a lot of low-wage workers.

Moody’s Analytics senior economist Kwame Donaldson said Florida has a slightly higher percentage of people working low-wage jobs compared with the rest of the country — 36 percent in Florida, and 33 percent nationwide.

Florida is ranked 26th among all states for low-wage jobs, based on taking 279 private industries and separating them into thirds — low-wage, mid-wage, high-wage — according to their average wage at the national level. That’s right in the middle of states.

In 2016, one in five Floridians were paid $10 or less an hour, according to the 2017 State of Working Florida report from Florida International University’s Center for Labor Research and Studies.

The report shows that Florida lags the national trend of rising median wages. The state’s 2016 median wage of $16.03 an hour was the lowest in 11 years.

"If Gillum’s point is that this situation has gotten worse under Gov. Scott, then there is evidence in support of this claim," Donaldson said. "The share of low-wage jobs in Florida has grown by 2 percentage points over the last eight years, the 10th-sharpest increase in the nation."

In an email, Gillum’s campaign pointed to an article from the Gainesville Sun that highlighted the increase in low-wage jobs since the recession, indeed making that point.

Low-wage jobs have accounted for nearly one in every two jobs created in Florida between 2005 and 2016, according to the 2017 State of Working Florida report. More than 392,000 of the 883,000 jobs created during this time paid $10 or less an hour.

As to Gillum’s claim, we found that some of Florida’s job growth has been in low-wage jobs and that the median wage level is the lowest in 11 years. However, there has been job growth in higher-paying jobs as well, and Florida is ranked 26th in low-wage jobs compared to other states.

Gillum has a point but additional context is needed. We rate this claim Half True.

Read more rulings at PolitiFact.com/florida.

FPO

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