Scott has skewed view of jobless rate

Published Sept. 21, 2012

Florida's jobless rate remained mired last month at 8.8 percent even as employers added a net of 23,200 jobs since July. But the reality is the state's unemployment rate, just like the nation's, should be much worse, and it's disingenuous of Gov. Rick Scott to boast that the state's job creation efforts have somehow led to a more than 2 percentage-point drop in unemployment. The sad fact is, discouraged, jobless Floridians have impacted the unemployment rate more than anything coming from Tallahassee.

Last month a state economist cautioned that about 70 percent of the drop in Florida's jobless rate stems not from people finding a job but from people deciding to drop out of the workforce altogether. Sadly, the same was true nationally last month. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics attributed the bulk of the national unemployment rate drop from July to August, from 8.3 to 8.1 percent, to the same factor.

But this week, the governor shut down a Bloomberg News reporter in Tallahassee, who reminded Scott that the unemployment rate did not account for thousands of Floridians who have dropped out of the job hunt. The state economist estimates that Florida's true unemployment rate is around 10.1 percent — just one point less than 11.1 percent, the rate the month before Scott took office in January 2011. An estimated 10,000 Floridians dropped out of the labor pool between July and August.

Those facts don't fit with the governor's political agenda apparently. But simply wishing for an improved employment picture doesn't make it so. Florida has real jobless problems that demand real solutions. And it needs a governor who comes to work leaving the rose-colored glasses back at the mansion.