Has Florida’s reached a five year high in consumer confidence?
By Roger Caldwell
Governor Scott is bragging in the state and around the country that the Florida economy is rebounding, and the picture is sunny. On his weekly radio address, he stated that in August 28,000 more Floridians found private-sector jobs and the economy is on the mend. Housing prices in the state has been rising in recent months, and the stock market has held on to the gains made in the last two years.
The University of Florida has released a recent survey that Floridians are feeling better about the economy since the start of the Great Recession. Since Gov. Scott has taken office in the last 20 months, the unemployment rate fell faster in Florida than in any other state. “We have every reason to brag about what’s going on in our state. If you look at the fastest drop in unemployment, it’s down 2.3 percent points in the last 20 months,” says the governor.
But in the African American community, very few residents are talking about all the work they are finding, and how great the last 20 months have been. The unemployment rate in the African American community is probably 16 percent, and the youth unemployment rate is 30 percent. In certain cities in Florida, I would not be surprised to find the Black male unemployment rate at 50 percent.
Many economists don’t share Gov. Scott’s sunny perspective. They believe that much of the governor’s great unemployment numbers is due to a shrinking Florida workforce. The decline in the labor force is due to Floridians giving up looking for a job, and departing from the workforce. Thousands of minorities in the state are dropping from the unemployment rolls, and they are not being counted.
As a result of the Great Recession people are taking whatever kind of job they can get to pay their bills. Floridians are underemployed, families are working extra jobs, and their homes are still going into foreclosure. Florida is the second state in the country with the highest rate of foreclosures, and I wonder who they sampled in the survey.
Florida ranks last in the nation when it comes to long-term unemployment, and more of the 816,000 jobless have been looking for work for six months or more, a national record. Gov. Scott says that in 20 months he has created 150,000 jobs, but the Office of Economic and Demographic Research says in the last 12 months, only 69,000 jobs have been created.
Gov. Scott is still bragging about the success he has had in the last 20 months, but I would argue that he is only seeing part of the picture. Many times the numbers on paper look good, but the leaders hide the real numbers until there is a crisis. In the African American community, the minority community, and the middle-class community, I don’t believe that consumer confidence is at an all time high.
The Florida economy is suffering, the minority community, and the middle-class community is suffering. There is an economic storm brewing in Florida, and Florida may not be able to pay its bills. The residents in the state may find that we are in deeper debt, and the governor refused to tell the truth.