Tallahassee, Florida – As Rick Scott enters his final legislative session, For Florida’s Future, a working families advocacy group, is launching RicksRecession.com, a new website highlighting the majority of counties still mired in a recession, and the nearly half of households in Florida who qualify as working poor. For Florida’s Future will be backing the website launch with a digital ad buy across Facebook and Twitter.
Rick Scott’s claims that Florida’s economy has “completely” turned around is deeply out of touch with reality for most Florida families. Despite the official end of the recession, and a recovery that was underway well over a year before Scott took office, Florida is still struggling to recover behind other states and the rest of the country under Scott’s direction seven years after he took office. The fact is a majority of Florida’s counties, especially those in rural areas, are actually worse off today than they were before the recession hit. Nearly half of Florida households (45 percent) qualify as working poor and struggle to afford even basic necessities like transportation, prescriptions and housing despite being employed. For those struggling Floridians who haven’t given up looking for work altogether under Scott, a combination of poverty-level wages, rising cost of living, and lack of higher-paying jobs has blocked many from regaining their pre-recession stability. What recovery there has been in Florida, like most things on Rick Scott’s watch, has been unequal, disproportionately benefitting the wealthy and corporations.
Meanwhile, Rick Scott has spent his time and state resources as governor slashing and underfunding public education, refusing to expand Medicaid for as many as 1 million Floridians, and setting up corporate slush fundsthat divert millions in taxpayer dollars to the same wealthy corporations who help fund Scott’s campaigns.
Statement from For Florida’s Future Communications Director, Blake Williams: “Not a single thing Scott has focused on - slashing funding for public schools, refusing to expand Medicaid for millions of low-income Floridians or giving taxpayer funding to corporations who donate to his campaigns - has helped everyday Floridians. To think that almost half of households qualify as working poor is galling. To think that over half of Florida’s counties are still living in a recession that should have ended years ago is unconscionable. If we’re going to dig our way out of Rick’s recession, the first thing we need to do is start prioritizing working and middle class families, something Scott clearly hasn’t done.”
Florida families have been left behind long enough. With his own party in control of Tallahassee, Scott has no one to blame but himself for the failed policies that have left over half the state mired in the recession. As Scott enters his final year in office, it’s time for him to face facts on what most of Florida has actually been experiencing throughout his almost eight years in office, start focusing on policies that help working families, and put an end to Rick’s Recession.
BACKGROUND: Rick’s Recession Has Left Half the State Behind
Miami Herald, Jun. 1, 2017: Recession reality: Most Florida counties still haven’t recovered all their lost jobs: “How many counties in Florida have more jobs now than before the recession? The answer stumps Enterprise Florida...The real number of counties that have more jobs today than they had before the Great Recession “is stunning,” he admitted to the group that has pegged its future and fate on job creation in Florida. The number is 31. That leaves 36 counties that still have not returned to pre-recession employment levels, a sign of an uneven and incomplete recovery in an era when Gov. Rick Scott has made job creation his singular focus. What’s more troubling, he warned, is that his projections are that Florida will produce 54,000 fewer jobs in 2017 than it did in 2016. An interactive map on the Florida Chamber website showsthat the 215,400 jobs created to date is lower than last year’s level of 244,000 as every county but nine has seen job losses. The metro areas of South Florida, Orlando and Tampa Bay have been the only bright spots in terms of job growth. ‘It’s a concerning trend,’ Parrish admitted. ‘We may have peaked.’”
Pensacola News Journal Editorial, Aug. 12, 2017: "Gov. Scott’s job promises missed most Floridians": “[D]espite almost 8 years of the governor’s persistent public rhetoric about job-creation, a report from the Florida Chamber found that 36 of 67 counties have actually lost jobs since 2007, before the Great Recession. And according to the data, many of Florida’s rural counties are worse off today than when Scott first won election in 2010.”
Sun Sentinel Editorial Board, Oct. 19, 2017: Florida’s working poor keep waiting for help: “Gov. Rick likes to brag about the state of Florida’s economy. The ALICE report, though, notes that the percentage of working poor Floridians increased from 2012 to 2015, even as unemployment kept dropping and the state kept adding jobs.”
Sun Sentinel, Aug. 31, 2017: Florida in 'low-wage trap' with pre-recession household income levels: “But he said there are still too many low-wage jobs that are resulting in workers living near poverty levels. Household incomes are below pre-recession levels, according to the 2017 “State of Working Florida” report...Florida’s median wage earners — or those in the middle -- are making just over $16 an hour, which is ‘the lowest that we have experienced in past 11 years,’ Bustamonte said. ‘There’s no sign that’s going to shift,’ he said.”
FIU 2017 Labor Report: State of Working Florida: “In 2015, Florida’s median household income was $49,688 – $5,630 less than it was in 2007 (in 2016 inflation-adjusted dollars). The typical Florida household has not recovered the purchasing power that it had prior to 2010. Relative to the national average, Florida’s decline in household income was more severe and the recovery has been slower. Florida households across the income ladder, especially those near the bottom, remain in a state of economic insecurity after the Great Recession.”
Florida Times Union, Oct. 13, 2017: Working poor in Northeast Florida: ‘Surviving … not living’: “One of every three people in Northeast Florida — Baker, Clay, Duval, Nassau and St. Johns counties — struggle to make ends meet. They are the so-called working poor who, despite having jobs, struggle to afford the basic, minimum necessities of housing, food, child care, health care and transportation…Two years ago the first ALICE report said 2.6 million Florida households were unable to afford the basic necessities of housing, food, child care, health care and transportation. The updated 2017 report, based on 2015 data, said about 30 percent of households were not meeting the so-called “ALICE threshold,” the basic cost of living for a particular county. An additional 14.5 percent were doing even worse, earning less than the federal poverty level. Combined, 3.3 million, or 44 percent of the state’s 7.5 million households, were struggling.”
Ocala Star Banner, Oct 8, 2017: Working the Problem of Poverty: “At the service station where Michelle Woodward works, a customer once bought 80 cents worth of gas on a credit card. Woodward isn’t as bad off as that customer, although some days it feels that way...During this school year, the Star-Banner is shining a spotlight on “The 31 Percent.” That’s the percentage of Marion County children who live in poverty. It was just over 21 percent 10 years ago.”
WUSF, Sept, 5, 2017: Study Shows Florida Unemployment Numbers Are Down, But Workers Aren't Benefitting: “Low-wage jobs in Florida are one of the main reasons families live in poverty or near poverty, according to a new study by Florida International University...According to the study, many of the new jobs being created are low-wage jobs. In 2016, 20 percent of Florida workers earned $10 or less an hour. As a result of so many low-wage jobs, the study found more families are living in economic insecurity.”
Orlando Sentinel, June 21, 2017: Rick Scott, staff are delusional about Florida's low-paying jobs: “The facts, however, are that Orlando is still where this newspaper has long reported. Our wages are: A) Way below the national average; and B) Rock bottom compared to other major metros. (50 out of 50 in median wages; 47th or 48th out of 50 in average wages, depending on the survey.)...Rick Scott wants you to think he’s created a stellar economy. And employers who pay poverty-level wages don’t want to talk about that.”
Miami Herald, Oct. 13, 2016: Recession still has Floridians reeling and anxious about election: “While the national employment growth rate was 3 percent, Florida's was only 1.2 percent from 2007 to 2015. In 40 of Florida's 67 counties, total employment levels decreased from 2007 to 2015, meaning jobs lost during the recession have not been replaced...“The collective economy of the state is underperforming compared to the national economy and other states,” said Kevin Greiner, senior research fellow at FIU’s Metropolitan Center who conducted the study for the Herald/Times. “But what’s really shocking is that there are so many counties that have been completely left behind since the recession.”
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