Florida needs good jobs

We would urge Gov. Scott to spend the next four years focusing not on a repackaged promise that has done too little to enhance the quality of life of most Floridians, but rather on what our state needs to do to attract jobs that raise the standard of living for average workers and, in turn, creates economic sustainability for communities across the Sunshine State. Gov. Rick Scott says he has officially kept his jobs promise. Everybody else, pretty much, says he didn’t even come close. Scott announced Friday that with the latest state jobs report, 700,000 new jobs have been created since he took office in January 2011. The governor said that fulfills his 2010 campaign jobs promise. Political opponents and fact checkers, however, have been quick to point out what the governor actually said originally was that he would create 700,000 new jobs in addition to the 1 million jobs economists expected to be created in Florida by 2017 naturally. Big difference, but no matter as Scott starts a second term. While Scott will take credit for 700,000 new jobs, promise fulfilled or not, the reality is that too many of those jobs are in low-paying services jobs such as retail, hospitality and tourism. As Dale Bill, a former director of the state office of Tourism, Trade and Economic Development under former Gov. Jeb Bush, wrote in a column in Sunday’s paper, job creation alone is not enough to fuel Florida’s economy and, along with it, the well-being of Florida’s residents. As Brill noted, economic development of the state or our own community depends on more than job creation. The goal, he noted, has to be “improving the economic well-being of the community.” And as the recent United Way ALICE report made clear, 45 percent of Florida households have difficulty making monthly ends meet due to insufficient income. Moreover, Brill noted, things are not getting any better, because Florida’s economy and job market continue to be driven by retirees, tourism and agriculture, known as the Big Three — and all three industries are notorious for paying low, if not minimum, wages. In fact, the average tourism industry worker is actually earning less today than in 2005. We would urge Gov. Scott to spend the next four years focusing not on a repackaged promise that has done too little to enhance the quality of life of most Floridians, but rather on what our state needs to do to attract jobs that raise the standard of living for average workers and, in turn, creates economic sustainability for communities across the Sunshine State. No doubt Scott would point to the relative few high-tech and white collar jobs that have come to our state during his tenure as signs he is doing this already, but, as Brill also noted, when the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation released its rankings of states based on 25 measures — including knowledge jobs, globalization, economic dynamism, the digital economy and innovation capacity — Florida fell from 21st place in 2012 to 25th place in 2014. That is going in the wrong direction. Creating any jobs is fine and good and, indeed, welcome. But when too many of those jobs are low wage and insufficient to support a household, it is not enough. If Gov. Scott wants to make a promise, promise us that he will spend the next four years transforming Florida’s economy into one that can provide livable 21st century wages for most of its residents. From Halifax Media Group.

http://www.dailycommercial.com/

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