Florida Grows Private-Sector Jobs While Government Work Withers
Around the State
Gov. Rick Scott is roughly on track toward his goal of "creating" 700,000 private-sector jobs in seven years. But public-sector workers are hoping that the current employment trend in their field does not continue.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Florida added 87,200 private-sector jobs from January through August this year. At the same time, public-sector employment fell 15,600 -- resulting in a net increase of 71,600 positions.
The state's private-sector employment growth matches or beats the sluggish job-creation rate nationally. Though Florida's jobless rate was 10.7 percent in August, that's down from 11.6 percent a year ago.
The U.S. economy added no new jobs last month -- the first time that's occurred since 1945.
Scott does not see the public-vs.-private equation as a zero-sum game.
"Governor Scott campaigned on reducing the size of state government in order to grow private-sector jobs. The most recent job numbers show that for every job lost in the public sector, Florida gained two jobs in the private sector," said deputy communications director Amy Graham.
"There is still a long road ahead, but, by removing the red tape that restricts economic development, we are clearly on the right path to getting Florida back to work," she said.
Citing figures from the Agency for Workforce Innovation, Graham said of the 15,600 public jobs lost January to August, 600 were in federal government, 6,600 were in state government and 8,400 jobs were in local government.
"Of the state jobs eliminated in this year’s budget, about 2,000 of those were vacant positions," she reported.
Dale Brill, president of Florida Chamber Foundation, draws a distinction between private- and public-sector employment, and says the state "is on the right track."
"Government can't create without taking. For every state job created, you have to take capital from the private sector," Brill says.
By contrast, employment gains in the private sector perpetuate a "virtuous cycle of innovation that enables productivity. Productivity creates value and the consumer wins," Brill explains.
Noting that the bulk of the public sector is unionized, Brill says "organized labor" distorts the job market and ultimately leads to higher jobless rates.
"When anything but the free market determines the wage rates, it creates unemployment," he asserts.
Florida progressive groups say a winning jobs formula requires both quantity and quality.
"Rick Scott's job-killing spree has eliminated thousands of salaried jobs with benefits such as health care, pensions, and paid sick leave that enable middle-class Floridians to spend time with their families," said Susannah Randolph, executive director of Florida Watch Action.
"Floridians need better options than working two or three hourly wage jobs just to make their mortgage payment. Just today, Rick Scott bragged about job creation that hinged upon Florida's 'cheap labor pool.' Is this how the governor views middle-class Floridians?"
Mark Ferrulo, executive director of Progress Florida, expressed similar frustration.
"Is Rick Scott turning Florida into Rick Perry's Texas, where there are more low-wage workers than anywhere else in the nation? That's the question Floridians need to ask."
"There's a difference between hourly wage, no-benefits jobs and the kinds of jobs that help rebuild the middle class," Ferrulo said.
Tom Tillison, an Orlando-area tea party activist, said liberal groups and their union allies protest too much.
"Despite the frequent (and false) claims from the left of teachers being laid off, public-sector job losses are most likely due to state and local government agencies streamlining in a difficult economy by not filling open positions," Tillison said.
"It's a clear indication of bloated government payrolls and reinforces the policies of Governor Scott toward shrinking the size of government to spur private sector job growth.
"All the resistance toward Scott's policies coming from public-sector unions is more about reduced union dues coming in than it is about what's best for the state," he concluded.
Contact Kenric Ward at email@example.com or at (772) 801-5341.