Rick Scott touts reaching 700,000 jobs, but that's not what he promised

Gov. Rick Scott meets with supporters in Plantation back on Oct. 26, 2014. His jobs promise remained central to his re-election efforts. (New York Times photo)
Gov. Rick Scott meets with supporters in Plantation back on Oct. 26, 2014. His jobs promise remained central to his re-election efforts. (New York Times photo)

Less than three weeks before his second-term inauguration, Gov. Rick Scott is crowing that he has accomplished a goal he initially said could take seven years, despite the fact he isn’t even halfway to what he actually promised.

Scott and the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity said Friday that as of November 2014, the state had added 715,700 private-sector jobs since December 2010, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

The governor used those numbers to declare victory on a major platform plank, his 7-7-7 plan for jobs growth, in which he promised the state would add 700,000 jobs in seven years by implementing Scott’s seven-point economic plan. Never mind that in 2010, Scott had actually promised 700,000 on top of normal growth, which means 1.7 million total. He’s also ignoring tens of thousands of employees cut from government payrolls over the past four years. 

"Four years ago, we unveiled an ambitious plan to fix Florida’s economy and turn the state around," Scott said in a press release. "Our goal was to create 700,000 jobs in seven years. Today our goal was reached three years early, with 715,700 private-sector jobs created in Florida since December 2010."

He also tweeted about his apparent victory Friday: "Florida did it: more than 700,000 jobs in less than four years!"

We’ve been tracking this promise on our Scott-O-Meter for almost four years now, and so far have rated it In The Works. Scott, however, is being very selective in his point of view.

During the 2010 campaign, economists said Florida would add anyway as the state rebounded from the Great Recession. Scott promised the 700,000 would be in addition to that growth, an assertion he denied saying after being elected, despite his answer being recorded and widely reported. PolitiFact Florida, however, is holding him to that 1.7 million number, because that’s what he promised on the campaign trail.

It’s not a point lost on the Florida Democratic Party; communications director Joshua Karp was quick to point this out in an email that read, "In 2010, Scott’s entire campaign was a promise to create 700,000 jobs on top of normal economic growth. Scott said it over and over and over again."

Now let’s dive into the numbers: Scott is counting a set of statistics that are a mouthful: Total, nonfarm, seasonally adjusted, private-sector employment since December 2010. His number does not include government jobs, which have dropped by 19,700 in that time span (although the category has added some workers in recent months). Scott had promised to cut the state workforce by 5 percent, which we rated a Promise Kept.

We do include government jobs, because they counted to the people who had them, and measure from January 2011, because economists tell us that would be a better indicator, since Scott took office at the start of that month. But we don’t have to even go that far, because Scott’s numbers don’t add up even by his revised promise if you include government job losses.

If you take out the 19,700 government jobs from the 715,700 private-sector positions Scott is touting, you end up with 696,000 total jobs. The latest numbers also are preliminary, and will be recalculated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the future as payroll information is tallied.

In any case, it’s far from the 1.7 million he promised, so we’re not ready to move the Scott-O-Meter yet.