Slowly, unsurely: Florida’s economy lags behind

Natalie Baez/ Contributing Writer

With the highest long-term unemployment rates, Florida’s Great Recession recovery is slow– emphasis on slow.

According to the 2012 “State of Working in Florida” report released by the University’s Research Institute on Social and Economic Policy, Florida exceeded the national average of long-term unemployment by 9.3 percent in 2011.

Written by Bernardo Oseguera, a research associate from RISEP, the “State of Working in Florida” is a yearly publication outlining the Florida employment climate.

According to the recent study, during the Great Recession, Florida lost 715,200 jobs and has since recovered 96,600 jobs, or 13.5 percent. The rest of the America has recovered 34.6 percent. States facing an economic hardship similar to or worse than Florida, like New York and Pennsylvania, have been recovering more efficiently.

Florida’s private sector has been recovering but the public sector is still losing jobs, losing 2.8 percent in the recovery while losing only 0.9 percent during the actual recession.

Additionally, the professional and business services, health care and social assistance, retail trade, and leisure and hospitality industries recovered 56 percent of the jobs lost during the recession.

“Hospitality is very flexible and it’s a seasonal business. Depending on the time of year, Florida, being the tourist spot that it is, can attract people to do a lot of things hospitality related,” said Alex Choi, a junior majoring in hospitality management.

These industries, however, are widely low-wage. Higher paying industries are underperforming, causing Florida to lag behind the other states.

“I believe that Florida needs to do a better job with creating jobs in manufacturing and construction, which are higher paying jobs,” said Alayne Unterberger, associate research director at RISEP. “However, most of the jobs being created are in lower wage industries, like retail.”

The retail trade industry and leisure and hospitality industry have together added 85,000 jobs. The health care and social assistance industry didn’t lose any jobs during the recession and has since maintained a steady job growth. Sixty-three percent of minimum wage workers come from these three industries.

Since the recession, the working age population has increased faster than job creation, leading to a rolling job deficit. Discouraged workers have dropped out of the labor force and as a result are not included in the 2011 unemployment rates, which would have been 3 percent higher had they remained seeking jobs.

The report also notes disparity among certain demographics, some recovering better than others. White males are recovering faster.

While unemployment rates began falling for white workers in 2009, it wasn’t until 2011 when Hispanic workers began to see a turn around, and still, unemployment for black workers are almost twice as high as that of Hispanics.

Last year, Hispanic workers earned 80 percent of what white workers earned, 5 percent less than 30 years ago. Black workers earned 75 percent of what white workers were waged in 2011, down 6 percent from their wages in 1979.

Women are also at a disadvantage, making up nearly half of the labor force, but hired four times less than men at the national level.

In 2011, women in Florida earned 88 percent of what men earned, 74 percent at the national level.

“You could look at it two different ways,” said Unterberger. “Either the glass is half full or the glass is half empty. Glass full— Floridian women are making more per woman compared to women at the national average. The second way, glass half empty, everyone in Florida has depressed wages meaning that everyone has relatively equal lower wages.”

Daniela Alvarez, a nursing and health care administration major said, “I don’t see why women would be paid less than men, especially in nursing where females dominate the profession.  It’s not fair that we do the same amount of work and get paid less.”

Following the release of the report, Florida Gov. Rick Scott said that “Every economic indicator we have is good.”

When questioned by reporters on the numbers reported by FIU and other economists at a press conference Sept. 18, Scott answered, “I’m saying we generated 130,000 jobs.”

Be the first to comment on "Slowly, unsurely: Florida’s economy lags behind"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.