Friday, October 24th, 2014

Scott-O-Meter

Create over 700,000 jobs

"The 7-step economic program — over a 7-year period — will have a positive economic impact and create over 700,000 jobs for the state of Florida."


Updates

700,000 jobs promise plods along, despite numbers debate

Careering into the August primary, Gov. Rick Scott's promise to create more than 700,000 jobs in seven years has either suffered a hiccup or continues unabated, depending on your point of view.

July jobs numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show Florida lost 1,600 jobs last month -- or gained 2,100, if you ask Scott. He has consistently ignored losses in government employment and touted private sector growth. The state has lost 25,400 government jobs during Scott's term, U.S. Labor Department economist Timothy Ewing told PolitiFact Florida.

His office on Aug. 15, 2014, crowed about the state's private businesses adding 620,300 jobs since December 2010. He also noted the unemployment rate, which is not vital to this particular promise, was down to 6.2 percent.

The Scott-O-Meter only counts jobs since Scott took office in January 2011, and is calculated using BLS numbers for seasonally adjusted, nonfarm work that includes changes in government employment. We put the total through July at 594,900, still short of the 700,000 goal. Actually, that should be the 1.7 million goal.
 
Scott's original 7-7-7 plan promised to create 700,000 jobs in addition to the 1 million jobs state economists predicted Florida would add by 2017, with or without policy changes in Tallahassee. We've previously noted that for Scott to make good on his promise, Florida would need to create 20,238 jobs a month, every month, for 84 straight months. That's happened only 11 times in Scott's first 43 months in office.

One major snag in the upward climb was from April to May, when the state lost 17,200 jobs, the largest statewide drop in the United States that month, and the unemployment rate ticked up 0.1 percent. Economists speculated the change possibly reflected a late Easter and a cold winter, which brought tourists that inflated April leisure and hospitality payrolls. The drop was bookended with stronger than usual growth in April and June.

Numbers people who have read our previous coverage should note that economists revise these numbers each year based on Census data pooled from payroll taxes, so the totals typically change as the picture becomes clearer.

Experts say it's hard to tell how much influence a governor has on the job creation process, and it may take years to find out if policies have had any effect on job totals at all.

Scott is still a long way away from his stated target, but job creation does continue to climb. We continue to rate this promise In The Works.

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Sources:

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics employment data, accessed Aug. 21, 2014

PolitiFact Florida, "Rick Scott changes jobs promise math," Oct. 4, 2011

Tampa Bay Times, "Florida unemployment rises to 6.3 percent," June 20, 2014

South Florida Business Journal, "South Florida unemployment rises in May," Jun 20, 2014

Florida Trend, "Florida's mid-year job growth steady," July 23, 2014

Tampa Bay Times, "While Florida unemployment rate stays unchanged at 6.2 percent, Tampa Bay's falters," Aug. 15, 2014

Governor's press office, "Gov. Scott: Florida creates 2,100 private-sector jobs in July," Aug. 15, 2014

Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, "Florida's July Employment Figures Released," Aug. 15, 2014

Inteview with Timothy Ewing, U.S. Department of Labor economist, Aug. 22, 2014

7 steps, 7 years, still a lot more jobs to go

Gov. Rick Scott took office in 2011 with a simple plan he promised would invigorate the state's economy.
Over seven years, through seven steps, Florida would add 700,000 jobs. Shorter: 7-7-7.

Not only that, the state would see improvements in its gross domestic product, personal income and tax collections, all achieved through putting government on a diet and giving taxpayers a break.

Three years into Scott's tenure, Florida is recovering in ways that surprise economists. The unemployment rate is down dramatically, below the national average, and the state has churned out hundreds of thousands of new jobs.

But are Florida's gains enough for Scott to keep his biggest campaign promise?

PolitiFact Florida, the fact-checking website of the Tampa Bay Times and Miami Herald, is monitoring 57 campaign promises Scott made in 2010, including his pledge to create 700,000 jobs.

Each promise is assessed and rated on the Scott-O-Meter as Promise Kept, Compromise, In the Works, Stalled or Promise Broken.

The jobs numbers, if you were to jot them onto a napkin, look good.

Florida has added 406,000 jobs since January 2011, and the biggest monthly boost is the most recent. In October, the state added 44,600 jobs, according to preliminary federal data.

Better yet, jobs are coming faster in 2013 than in 2012 and 2011.

Beyond the numbers, however, lie two critical questions:

1.) What did Scott actually promise voters in 2010?

2.) Is Scott's 7-7-7 plan the reason those 406,000 jobs came to Florida?

Scott's campaign promise

When Scott debuted his 7-7-7 economic plan in July 2010, nonpartisan economists at the Legislature's Office of Economic and Demographic Research had just released their estimates for Florida's long-term jobs outlook.

They concluded Florida would add 1.05 million jobs between July 1, 2010, and June 30, 2018, and it didn't matter who lived in the Governor's Mansion — Scott, Democrat Alex Sink or someone else.

To account for the news, Scott clarified his promise. His 700,000 jobs would come in addition to the ones state economists forecasted.

Put simpler: 7-7-7 became 7-7-1.7 million.

That promise is a lot harder to keep. It requires the state to produce more than 20,000 jobs on average per month, every month, for seven years.

To date, Florida is averaging 12,000 jobs a month.

"Florida is going to come nowhere near exceeding normal job growth by 700,000 in seven years, no matter how you define it or time it," said David Denslow, a retired University of Florida economist.

Scott's influence on jobs

The math on Scott's 7-7-7 plan actually adds up to 661,914 jobs. The campaign rounded up.

The plan outlines seven steps to reach the goal: Implement accountability budgeting, reduce government spending, enact regulatory reform, focus on job growth and retention, invest in the university system, reduce property taxes, and eliminate Florida's business income tax.

Scott promised an economy better off because of his policies, but many of his ideas from the campaign did not survive, said Rollins College economics professor William Seyfried.

Scott saw success in some areas, such as privatizing inmate health care, shaving the state's workforce and making state workers contribute to their pensions.

Other, bigger ideas were rejected by the Legislature outright or only adopted in part. Take his biggest tax proposals: eliminating the corporate income tax and drastically reducing school property taxes (while sparing schools from cuts through other savings). Scott made headway in relieving many firms of paying the business tax, but the Legislature rejected his push to go further (PolitiFact Florida rates that promise Stalled). And talk of cutting school tax money has turned into calls for boosting school funding (Promise Broken).

And when Scott suspended proposed regulations until his office could review them — part of his regulatory-reduction effort to generate 240,000 jobs — the Florida Supreme Court said the executive order overstepped his authority. Scott was forced to change course.

"Regulatory relief and tax reform tend to have a gradual effect over time rather than a significant impact right away," Seyfried said.

The issue with the 7-7-7 plan, Denslow and other economists say, is it assumes power and influence a governor does not have.

Florida's governor is even weaker than most because, his line-item veto power aside, the Legislature carries more economic authority, Denslow said.

Still, the state once seen as a laggard in the national recovery is now seen as a leader, and Scott is perceived as making the state as business friendly as possible, said Mark Vitner, a senior economist at Wells Fargo. The state has done well in attracting international tourism and housing investments from Brazil, Great Britain and Canada, he said.

"He's been very active in recruiting businesses and encouraging economic development at the local level," he said.

Whether Scott gets credit for the job growth is an age-old debate. Executives at all levels of government often take credit for the good times and deflect blame for the bad.

In Scott's case, economists say it's too hard to parse out and too soon to tell what jobs are here directly as a result of his stewardship.

Even the architect of the 7-7-7 plan, Donna Arduin, told the Times in 2010, "You're never going to know which jobs were created because of which event."

Part of national trend

The biggest gust behind Florida's economy is the national business cycle, said Mekael Teshome, a PNC Financial Services Group economist who studies the Florida market. If the economy is improving here, it means conditions have improved nationwide. For decades, the state's success was built on growth, the continuous influx of new residents and housing construction.

When people have more expendable income, more people visit Florida. When the economy improves around the country, retirees feel better about moving to Florida. And when housing picks up regionally, it lifts the rest of the state.

"What we're seeing in Florida has more to do with the macro trends than particular policies," Teshome said. "In terms of what proportion of that recovery was due to government versus the normal business cycle, I don't think anyone's really got that number."

The types of industries in a state also are important. Florida's boom and bust was fueled by housing.

Meanwhile, Texas performed relatively well during the recession thanks to its agriculture and energy sectors.

"You could say Gov. Rick Perry is great, and maybe he is and maybe he isn't, but a lot of its success is due to the type of industry they have," Seyfried said. "Florida's economic performance in recent years was driven by the bursting of the housing bubble."

Where Scott stands

So where does this leave Scott's promise to create 700,000 jobs?

The state has added jobs, a good sign after years of recession-driven losses. But Scott needs more job growth than ever to have a chance of fulfilling the promise he made during the campaign. Economists doubt he will reach his original goal — and that's putting aside an argument about how much his policies affect job growth.

For Scott to deliver, Florida needs to create 26,000 jobs a month, every month, for 50 straight months. That happened only five times in Scott's first 34 months in office.

The odds are stacked against him, but jobs are coming and Scott is trying. Still, we rate this promise In the Works.

 

Gov. Rick Scott promised during the 2010 campaign to create 700,000 jobs in the state over seven years in addition to the 1 million jobs economists said would be added naturally. To meet Scott's goal, Florida needs to create more than 20,000 jobs a month on average.

 

Sources:

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics employment data

Interview with Sean Snaith, director of the University of Central Florida's Institute for Economic Competitiveness, Nov. 19, 2013

Interview with Bill Seyfried, Rollins College economics professor, Nov. 19, 2013

Interview with Mekael Teshome, PNC Financial Services Group economist, Nov. 19, 2013

Interview with David Denslow, retired University of Florida economist, Nov. 23, 2013

Interview with Mark Vitner, Well Fargo Securities senior economist, Nov. 25, 2013

St. Petersburg Times (now Tampa Bay Times), "A closer look at Rick Scott's jobs plan shows his challenges," Dec. 22, 2010

PolitiFact Florida, "Scott changes the math for 700,000 jobs," Oct. 4, 2011

Tampa Bay Times, "Florida unemployment rate drops to 6.7 percent," Nov. 25, 2013

Florida Legislature Office of Economic and Demographic Research, long-run economic tables, Nov. 18, 2013

July numbers improve, but much progress needed

July's jobs numbers brought pleasing news to Gov. Rick Scott, who is watching the state's economic data like a hawk.

The state gained a net 27,600 jobs from June, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Scott put an even more positive spin on the news: It was a record month during his tenure for private-sector job growth, at 34,500 jobs.

"We are more than halfway to our goal of creating 700,000 jobs in seven years," Scott said in a Aug. 16 statement.

We have a few quibbles with Scott's statement.

One, he is counting private-sector jobs. By our count, which factors in government job losses, that moves the net jobs total since Scott took office to 336,700 -- so it's actually less than halfway to 700,000.

That's better than the last time we visited the jobs data, but the state is not creating jobs at a fast enough pace for Scott to really be powering toward the jobs goal he articulated on the campaign.

That goal, of course, was that his 7-7-7 plan would create 700,000 jobs on top of what state economists predicted the economy would churn out anyway as it recovered from a painful recession. At the time, they predicted the state would add 1 million jobs by 2017 regardless of changes in policy.

That's why we rated Scott's assertion back in May that "we are already almost halfway to our 2010 goal of creating 700,000 new jobs in seven years” as Mostly False.

The unemployment rate is not particularly relevant to this promise, but we thought we'd note it remained unchanged at 7.1 percent.

Even more, economists have told us it takes several years to assess what influence, if any, a governor or president has over job creation or losses.

This promise remains Stalled on out Scott-O-Meter.

 

August 2013 Scott jobs update

Sources:

BLS.gov data for total nonfarm jobs, seasonally adjusted, in Florida from December 2010 to January 2013

Gov. Rick Scott’s job-creation goal gets unexpected boost, but...

Gov. Rick Scott's second year in office turned out not to be as underwhelming for job creation as once thought.

Federal labor economists estimated Florida generated 54,900 net jobs in 2012. Scott, of course, promised to deliver 700,000 new jobs in seven years to the Sunshine State (on top of normal growth), so the modest gains were a setback to his campaign goal.

But each March, economists revise their original estimates using Census Bureau data instead of business surveys. This year's revision, which relies on unemployment insurance reports from employers and changes in population estimates, added more than 84,000 jobs to Scott's jobs tally.

Cool down, conspiracy theorists. Scott did not cook the books to add thousands more jobs to his tally. These numbers come from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, so states don't have individual control.

Plus, most states had their jobs estimates revised up. Only four states and Washington, D.C., generated fewer jobs than originally estimated.

The way we typically get monthly employment numbers -- by surveying a sample of employers -- is helpful but often imprecise. It's like trying to figure out the jobs picture through a foggy window, experts say.

"The picture becomes clearer once we get this benchmarking process,” said Sean Snaith, a University of Central Florida economist and director of UCF's Institute of Economic Competitiveness. "We can't really get a real-time read on the economy.”

Snaith added: "The real measuring stick will probably be nine years from when he took office.”

In heralding the news, Scott highlighted the state's unemployment rate of 7.8. percent -- its lowest in five years and below the national average -- and the creation of more than 280,000 private sector jobs since he took over.

Scott likes to tout private-sector job creation under his watch, which ignores the number of government employees who lost their jobs at the same time.

Through 25 months in office, Scott's new net jobs total is 254,600 jobs.

So why, with progress on job creation, are we rating this Stalled?

To reporters on the campaign trail and during a debate, Scott clarified his jobs plan would build on top of forecasts from state economists, who predicted the state would add 1 million jobs by 2017 regardless of policy changes.

To meet Scott's promise, the state needs to add 20,238 jobs a month, every month for seven years. As you can tell from our chart, that has happened a few times, including in January 2012, which after benchmarking went from a loss of 35,400 jobs to an increase of 23,300 jobs.

Under Scott's watch, Florida is creating an average of 10,184 jobs a month. It's not bad -- it's certainly better than before the revisions.

Still, it's half the monthly average Florida needs to crank out in order for Scott to fulfill his promise of creating 1.7 million new jobs by 2018.

The Tampa Bay Times noted one other important point in its March 18, 2013 story about the rosier jobs numbers: The percentage of the working-age population in the labor force fell during the recession and has not yet recovered. Even though Florida"s 16+ civilian population increased by 218,000 in 2012, the labor force grew by just 96,000, the Times noted.

This promise remains Stalled.

Sources:

BLS.gov data for total nonfarm jobs, seasonally adjusted, in Florida from December 2010 to January 2013

Interview with Sean Snaith, University of Central Florida economist, March 19, 2013

Tampa Bay Times, "Florida unemployment drops to 7.8 percent in January,” March 18, 2013

Tampa Bay Times, "Rick Scott changes jobs promise math,” Oct. 4, 2011

Florida sees positive October growth, but it still falls short of benchmark

Gov. Rick Scott's promise to create 700,000 jobs in seven years got a boost in October, with the state adding 14,700 jobs.

That puts the total number of jobs created since Scott took office in January 2011 at 154,000.

The job growth is part of a larger story about Florida's improving economy after a less-than-ideal summer.

Scott celebrated the state's declining unemployment rate, which hit its lowest point in almost four years in October. At 8.5 percent, the rate is still higher than the national unemployment rate.

In a news release, he counted off several signs of growth, including increases in job postings, an uptick in consumer confidence and a trade surplus. He delighted in the creation of 12,100 private sector jobs and ignored the fact that government jobs got a 2,600-position boost.

"We are creating an environment that fosters job creation, economic development and provides a skilled workforce," he said in the release. "My number one goal is to create jobs for Florida families and get this state back to work. There is still more work that needs to be done, but I'm confident we're on the right path."

As Scott pointed out, much work remains for the state to add 700,000 jobs through 2017. As a candidate, Scott pledged those jobs would come on top of normal growth, bringing the true desired total to 1.7 million jobs.

State economists expected Florida to generate 1 million jobs through 2017 through normal growth. Scott said his seven-step plan would create 700,000 jobs on top of what they projected.

"Our plan is seven steps to 700,000 jobs, and that plan is on top of what normal growth would be," Scott said during a debate sponsored by Leadership Florida and the Florida Press Association.

To do that, Scott needed to create an average of 20,238 jobs a month since his January 2011 start-date. He netted job gains of 14,700 in October, but it falls short of that benchmark.  

In office, Scott has backed down from his campaign remarks, saying Florida would grow by only 700,000 without accounting for normal growth. Scott's press team has been critical of our stories about Scott's campaign promise, even publishing a "fact check” of our previous promise update.

His team pointed to the positive direction of job growth since August and said Scott's focus on job creation is as relentless as ever.

We don't deny Scott is laser-focused on employment.

Still, he is far short of his specific goal to create 700,000 jobs on top of normal growth. That does not mean the overall jobs picture is dimming for Florida under Scott; in fact, the state's economy shows many signs of perking up over recent months.

But Florida's recent job-creation pace is not yet strong enough for Scott to be on track to meet his stated campaign goal. This promise remains Stalled.

Sources:

October Scott jobs update

Bureau of Labor Statistics, October jobs report

Interview with Jackie Schutz, Rick Scott spokeswoman, Nov. 20, 2012

Politifact Florida, "Gov. Rick Scott changes the math for '700,000 jobs'," Oct. 4, 2011
       
PolitiFact Florida, "Rick Scott touts '7-7-7' plan to create 700,000 jobs in seven years," July 26, 2010
       
Gov. Rick Scott, "700,000 jobs in Seven Years: Setting the Record Straight," Oct. 7, 2011

Interview with Melissa Sellers, Scott spokeswoman, Nov. 26, 2012

Still a long way from 700,000 jobs

It's been a few months since we've looked at Gov. Rick Scott's centerpiece promise to create 700,000 jobs over seven years.

While the most recent statistics show job creation moving in a positive direction, the pace is so sluggish that it still looks like it will be difficult for Scott to keep his word.

Scott promised during his campaign for governor to create 700,000 jobs in seven years as part of his signature plan to jumpstart Florida's economy. The extra jobs were to be in addition to those jobs economists predicted would be created no matter who was elected governor.

That would raise the bar to 1.7 million total jobs, or a little more than 20,000 jobs added per month, each month, for seven years.

PolitiFact Florida is tracking Scott's jobs promise and 56 others on our Scott-O-Meter, which ranks promises as Promise Kept,  Promise Broken, Stalled or Compromise.

How's Scott done toward creating all those jobs?

Through Scott's first 20 months, Florida has added a total of 130,800 jobs, or about 6,540 jobs per month. If you exclude Scott's first month in office, the number dips to about 108,000 jobs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

August brought particularly good news. The state added more than 23,000 jobs -- the second highest month of job growth Scott has seen since taking office. The August figures, which are the most recent ones that are available, are preliminary and subject to revision.

"This increase in new jobs is proving that the decisions we're making here in Florida are pointing our state in the right direction,” Scott said in a statement.

Still, for Scott, there's a long way to go.

For Scott to keep his word, Florida would need to add 26,000 jobs a month, every month, through 2017. The state has only done that once since Scott took office, in April 2011.

One note: Scott has since back-tracked on the condition that he would create jobs in addition to what economists predicted. We're holding him to his original promise at PolitiFact Florida, though even by his much easier target he is off schedule.

To just get to 700,000 jobs, Florida would still need to create about 9,500 jobs a month through 2017 instead of the 6,540 jobs a month the state is now generating.

In January 2012, we first rated Scott's centerpiece promise as Stalled. There's nothing in the most recent numbers to change our opinion. This promise remains Stalled.

Sources:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, August jobs report

Politifact Florida, "Gov. Rick Scott changes the math for '700,000 jobs," Oct. 4, 2011
       
PolitiFact Florida, "Rick Scott touts '7-7-7' plan to create 700,000 jobs in seven years," July 26, 2010
       
Gov. Rick Scott, "700,000 jobs in Seven Years: Setting the Record Straight," Oct. 7, 2011

Scott's jobs promise takes a hit despite May growth

Gov. Rick Scott has more ground to make up than he did a month ago on his campaign pledge to create 700,000 jobs in seven years.

Even though Florida gained 5,300 jobs in May, the state lost more jobs in April than originally predicted -- about 10,300, or four times as many as first thought.

That brings Scott's total jobs count to 105,500. If you exclude his first month -- and he does -- the count becomes 82,600.

A similar effect happened in March, when economists revised a preliminary figure for January to a dismal loss of 38,600 jobs.

Economist Sean Snaith, director of the Institute for Economic Competitiveness at the University of Central Florida, said this kind of drop-off is not unusual.

The monthly employment numbers start out as estimates based on sample data. The sample data is revised later on, and the changes can move up or down. Those revisions stand until the once-a-year "benchmarking” process occurs. It's usually in March and usually involves examining unemployment insurance reports from employers.

Scott instead tends to focus on the state's declining unemployment rate. In May, Florida joined three states in posting the most significant year-over-year decrease in unemployment rates, dropping 2 percentage points since May 2011 to 8.6 percent.

It's understandable he wouldn't brag about the state's lagging number of new jobs, but that's what he promised to improve. The total so far is well short of what he pledged on the campaign trail and in a statement modifying his goal. (PolitiFact Florida has documented his changing math on the jobs promise.)

Scott the campaigner repeatedly said job creation under his administration would come on top of normal growth, bringing the total to 1.7 million new jobs. But Scott the governor adjusted that total last fall, saying he would work to create 700,000 jobs regardless of predictions.

In order to satisfy what he promised on the campaign, Florida needed to create an average of 20,238 jobs per month for seven years. His lowered goal would require 8,300 new jobs a month.

But 17 months into office, Scott is creating an average of 4,859 jobs a month.

That's well below what he needs to satisfy his biggest campaign pledge. This promise remains Stalled.

 

May jobs graphic

 

Sources:

Tampa Bay Times, "Florida unemployment drops again, reaching 8.6 percent,” June 16, 2012

Tampa Bay Times, "Unemployment rate is down, but jobs numbers look bad for Gov. Rick Scott,” March 14, 2012
   
Politifact Florida, "Gov. Rick Scott changes the math for '700,000 jobs," Oct. 4, 2011
       
PolitiFact Florida, "Rick Scott touts '7-7-7' plan to create 700,000 jobs in seven years," July 26, 2010
       
Gov. Rick Scott, "700,000 jobs in Seven Years: Setting the Record Straight," Oct. 7, 2011

Bureau of Labor Statistics unemployment data for May 2012

Interview with Sean Snaith, director, Institute for Economic Competitiveness, University of Central Florida, June 18, 2012

Math starting to work against Rick Scott on his centerpiece jobs promise

Florida's unemployment dropped 0.3 percentage points in April, but the number that matters most for Gov. Rick Scott actually moved in the wrong direction.

The state lost 2,700 jobs.

Scott promised during his campaign for governor to create 700,000 jobs in seven years as part of his signature plan to jumpstart Florida's economy. As we've written several times before, the extra jobs were to be in addition to those jobs economists predicted would be created no matter who was elected governor (Scott has since back-tracked on that condition).

Ultimately, we will hold Scott to what he originally promised, which amounts to creating about 1.7 million jobs over seven years. But even under Scott's much more generous scenario, the first-term governor is falling short.

Florida has generated 107,800 jobs since Scott took office (84,900 if you exclude January 2011, Scott's first month in office).

That's an average of 5,306 or 6,738 jobs a month, depending when you start counting.

To keep his word, Scott needs Florida to create an average of 20,238 jobs each month, every month, for seven years.

In order to hit the easier-to-reach 700,000-job mark, Scott needed Florida to create slightly more than 8,300 jobs a month, every month.

Through 16 months (15 if you decide to exclude January 2011), Scott has failed to reach either mark, meaning the state will have to grow jobs at an even faster clip in the months ahead.

For the record, it's not unusual for the unemployment rate and the jobs number to move in different directions. The state's unemployment rate is taken from a household survey; the jobs numbers are based on feedback from employers. The April figures are preliminary and subject to revisions.

Scott's jobs promise appears to be getting away from him, but we'll continue to watch the numbers before rethinking our rating. For now, this promise remains Stalled.

 

Jobs progress chart for April 2012

Sources:

Tampa Bay Times, "Florida unemployment falls to 8.7 percent, but …," May 19, 2012

Politifact Florida, "Gov. Rick Scott changes the math for '700,000 jobs," Oct. 4, 2011
   
PolitiFact Florida, "Rick Scott touts '7-7-7' plan to create 700,000 jobs in seven years," July 26, 2010
   
Gov. Rick Scott, "700,000 jobs in Seven Years: Setting the Record Straight," Oct. 7, 2011

Florida adds 10,100 jobs in February

Florida's jobs outlook improved in February after a dismal January report.

But Gov. Rick Scott still has a long way to go of fulfilling his central campaign promise: creating 700,000 jobs in seven years.

Florida has added 90,400 jobs in Scott's first 14 months in office, with 10,100 jobs coming in February 2012, according to the federal government's most recent estimate.

February's numbers helped offset a big backstep for Scott's promise in January, when the state lost 35,400 jobs (revised from its preliminary estimate of 38,600 lost jobs).

Florida is one of 28 states with significant over-the-year job gains, though its count of 72,300 added jobs trails more populous states by a long shot. Florida's population is poised to surpass New York's, but the Empire State added almost twice as many jobs from February 2011 to February 2012.

Scott isn't taking that lying down. He went on Fox News to announce that he's recruiting New York's top companies to Florida, pointing to a letter he wrote to 100 chief executives boasting of Florida's low corporate tax burden and sunny weather.

It's too early to tell if any CEOs will take up the former healthcare CEO on his offer.

He could use their help. Scott needs another 1,609,600 jobs to meet his original promise (700,000 jobs on top of projected seven-year growth of 1 million), and 609,600 jobs to meet his revised promise (700,000 regardless of the economy's performance).

Economic optimists might point to the state's unemployment rate of 9.4 percent, which remains above the national average but fell to its lowest point in three years in February.

Our task here is to focus on jobs. This promise remains Stalled.

• • •

Lagging behind job creation promise

During the 2010 campaign, Gov. Rick Scott promised to "create over 700,000 jobs for the state of Florida." Those new jobs would be on top of the jobs state economists predicted would be created naturally, Scott said -- representing a total of 1.7 million jobs in seven years, according to economists' projections. Here's how Scott stands as of February 2012.

Jobs progress chart for April 2012

 

Sources:

Tampa Bay Times, "Florida unemployments falls to 9.4 percent," March 30, 2012

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Regional and State Employment and Unemployment Summary, published March 30, 2012

The Miami Herald's Naked Politics blog, "Scott pens letter to New York CEOs: Do you like paying taxes?" March 29, 2012

Latest job numbers reveal set-backs on job creation

Yes, Florida's unemployment rate dropped to 9.6 percent in January — its lowest point since March 2009.

But the news isn't so great for Gov. Rick Scott, who made creating 700,000 jobs in seven years his bold, catchy campaign promise.

Even though the state's unemployment rate is down, actual job numbers are down, too — 38,600 jobs lost in January, economists reported Tuesday. The good-news, bad-news numbers are largely because the two statistics measure different things.

For Scott, the bottom line is this: The state created 77,100 jobs from January 2011 through January 2012. The number's even lower — 54,200 jobs — if you exclude the month Scott was sworn into office. Either measure is far short of the deal Scott made with voters who elected him in 2010, when he said he would create 700,000 jobs in seven years. 

PolitiFact Florida continues to rate his centerpiece promise Stalled.

Scott, who celebrated a rosy December jobs report with a press conference, did not take questions from reporters Tuesday. His office issued a statement that focused on the unemployment drop, but not the job creation numbers:

"Florida's unemployment rate has now dropped for 11 of the last 13 months and this is the second consecutive month the unemployment rate has been below 10 percent," Scott said in the statement. "It's great to see Florida's economy is trending in the right direction and our unemployment rate is the lowest in three years."

During the campaign, Scott created a seven-step plan that he said would lead to the creation of 700,000 jobs in seven years. When asked by reporters, Scott said those jobs would be in addition to the jobs economists predicted would be created naturally — by either population growth or growth in the overall economy.

But Scott flip-flopped months into office, announcing in October that he would rely "on actual job growth each month," not on "what an economist in Tallahassee predicts" the state may gain or lose.

Now even that modified promise is looking shaky.

Originally, employment data measured by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics helped Scott claim that he added 130,000 jobs in 2011 — often illustrated by posters depicting skyrocketing job growth for the private sector as government jobs trended negative.

That outlook is worse now that economists crunched the data again.

The 2011 net jobs created was really 115,700, according to revised data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In January 2012, the state lost 38,600 nonfarm jobs -- the largest drop in the country.

We should note that January 2012 numbers are preliminary. Previous job losses identified in January 2010 and January 2011 were later reported as months with job gains.

Every year, economists revisit the monthly jobs data, which is initially based on a survey of employers, said Sean Snaith, a University of Central Florida economist. They compare the survey results with tax forms, and big fixes are necessary sometimes.

"It's just the nature of the beast," Snaith said.

Still, since Scott took office, the state has added 77,100 jobs, or merely 54,200 depending on when you start counting. That's miles short of the pace he needs to keep his original promise, but it's also now shy of even the revised promise he made in October.

Either way, this promise remains Stalled.

Times/Herald staff writer Toluse Olorunnipa contributed to this report.

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Lagging behind job creation promise

During the 2010 campaign, Gov. Rick Scott promised to "create over 700,000 jobs for the state of Florida." Those new jobs would be on top of the jobs state economists predicted would be created naturally, Scott said -- representing a total of 1.7 million jobs in seven years, according to economists' projections. Here's how Scott stands as of January 2012.

Jobs progress chart for March 2012

 

Sources:

Gov. Rick Scott, State of the State Address, March 8, 2011

Politifact Florida, "Gov. Rick Scott changes the math for '700,000 jobs," Oct. 4, 2011

PolitiFact Florida, "Rick Scott touts '7-7-7' plan to create 700,000 jobs in seven years," July 26, 2010

Gov. Rick Scott, "700,000 jobs in Seven Years: Setting the Record Straight," Oct. 7, 2011

Interview with Sean Snaith, director, Institute for Economic Competitiveness, University of Central Florida, March 13, 2012

Bureau of Labor Statistics data

DEO data

Scott's tax policy presentation

Interview with Nancy Blum, Department of Economic Opportunity spokeswoman, March 13, 2012

Gov. Rick Scott backs off details of his 700,000 jobs plan

More Floridians are working since Rick Scott, the self-anointed "jobs governor," took office a year ago.

And yet, today, PolitiFact Florida rates Scott's central campaign promise of 700,000 new jobs Stalled.

Why?

The promise Scott made as an outsider businessman isn't the one he's keeping from his desk in the state Capitol.

PolitiFact Florida is tracking 57 of Scott's campaign promises, and one year in, we find Scott has had more successes than failures. But in the case of the jobs promise, he has much more work to do.

Progress report

A year in, Scott has kept a third of the campaign promises we track on the Scott-O-Meter. He sold the state planes. He hasn't taken the $130,000 governor's salary. He eliminated what critics call "tenure" for new K-12 teachers.

He also reached a compromise with the Republican Legislature on a plan to cut the state workforce by 5 percent (it shrunk about 3.5 percent last year) and a promise to reform Citizens Property Insurance and allow the state-run insurer to charge market-based premiums (the Legislature wasn't ready to go that far).

Of 57 promises, he's kept 19. Just a third of his promises are now rated Broken or Stalled.

But all of that is just context for the promise Scott called his "whole campaign" — his vow to create 700,000 jobs over seven years.

Jobs promise

During the campaign, Scott said 700,000 jobs would grow from his seven-step plan for the state. State agencies would be held accountable for results from their budgets. Government spending would drop. The cost of regulation would fall. Florida would focus on job growth and retention. Its universities would be world-class. Floridians would pay lower property taxes — and the corporate income tax would disappear.

Keeping those promises, the plan said, would result in specific job growth:

• 365,000 jobs would come from tax and budget reforms, including eliminating the corporate income tax.

• 240,000 jobs would come from reducing unnecessary costs that Tallahassee places on Florida businesses.

• 60,000 jobs would come from "leveraging the economic development assets of Florida to attract key technology clusters."

The total promise was actually 665,000 jobs but, as Scott explained on the campaign trail, "It's just rounding."

Either way, Scott has abandoned the details of that plan, which he said voters had "reviewed ... and voted to enact."

He now promises that the state will generate 700,000 net jobs from all sources, whether they come from his reforms, or from simple cyclical economic recovery.

What's the difference?

As Scott ran for office, state economists forecast about a million jobs would emerge over seven years as the recession-battered state healed. Scott said his 700,000 jobs — the result of his carefully constructed plan — would come on top. In seven years, if Scott succeeded, the state would add 1.7 million jobs.

Now he says, "Instead of focusing on hypotheticals, I'm focused on what I know will be accomplished through my 7-7-7 plan — the creation of 700,000 jobs over seven years regardless of what the economy might otherwise gain or lose. Floridians will judge me not on what an economist in Tallahassee predicts, but on actual job growth each month."

And indeed, each month, he adds all new net jobs in the state to his tally, more than 100,000 so far.

He can be proud: Florida's job growth has outpaced national job growth. 

But instead of more than 20,000 new jobs each month, he's now promising just over 8,300.

He's moved the goalpost by 1 million jobs.

Economists

Politically and practically, shifting makes some sense. 

Scott made a promise to voters though it relied on many factors he couldn't control — especially the global and U.S. economies.

David Denslow, a University of Florida research economist, thinks Scott's entitled to a little renegotiating. He should be able to adjust that 1.7 million promised jobs to account for global and national pressures that weren't clear during the campaign. He should be able to adjust his 7-7-7 plan to nimbly respond to what's working, and what's not.

"If the national economy tanks, we have to cut him some slack," he said.

But to drop his goal by nearly 60 percent?

"The limit, I think, is exceeded in this instance," he said.

Tony Villamil, dean of the school of business at St. Thomas University and a long-time director of Enterprise Florida, the state's public-private economic development agency, wouldn't even hold the governor to a number.

"Jobs created significantly depend on the U.S. and global environment, which no governor can control," he said.

How would he judge a governor's success? By looking at the state's business environment.

And Scott's goals are on target, he said: cutting taxes, reducing regulation, marketing the state to businesses.

"Certainly the business environment, the things that he can control, are conducive to higher job growth," he said.

"The part that he can control — he's doing it right."

But Bill Seyfried, a professor of economics at Rollins College, points out that key parts of the governor's job agenda may not ultimately fall into place.

Scott's promise to eliminate the corporate income tax, for example, a centerpiece of the tax and budget reforms key to half of his plan's job creation, is Stalled.

"Since this hasn't occurred, the governor can make the case that it's unlikely that he'll achieve his goal," he said.

Just how is the governor performing on the 31 promises directly from his seven-step plan to 700,000 jobs? Nearly a third are Promise Kept or a Compromise. Nearly a third are In the Works. More than a third are Stalled or Broken.

Sean Snaith director of the Institute for Economic Competitiveness at University of Central Florida, predicts Scott's rhetoric will change when he runs for re-election.

"He wasn't a politician to begin with — because no politician would allow himself to be pinned to specifics like that," Snaith said. "... I don't think he'll make the same mistake twice."

Our ruling

Scott pledged a result that will be hard to measure — that his seven-year, seven-step plan would boost the state's job market by 700,000. Not surprisingly, Scott the governor has backed away from what Scott the candidate promised. 

It's not too late to return to the plan. Scott could tout the state's job growth, but resist adding to his 700,000 tally before his slow-acting medicine has time to work. He could task economists with evaluating the success of the policies he passes. He could take his own plan as seriously as he did 12 months ago.

But until then, we'll take him at his word — the ones he used to earn votes — and hold him accountable, as he asked us to. We rate his promise Stalled.


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Lagging behind job creation promise


During the 2010 campaign, Gov. Rick Scott promised to "create over 700,000 jobs for the state of Florida" with his seven-year, seven-step economic plan. He said his plan would add to jobs already expected by the state's economists. That's 1.7 million jobs over seven years. Here's an update on the number of nonfarm jobs created since he came into office Jan. 4, 2011.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics *November jobs number is preliminary     DARLA CAMERON | Times



Sources:

Gov. Rick Scott, State of the State Address, March 8, 2011

Politifact Florida, "Gov. Rick Scott changes the math for '700,000 jobs," Oct. 4, 2011

PolitiFact Florida, "Rick Scott touts '7-7-7' plan to create 700,000 jobs in seven years," July 26, 2010

Gov. Rick Scott, "700,000 jobs in Seven Years: Setting the Record Straight," Oct. 7, 2011

Interview with David Denslow, research economist, Bureau of Economic and Business Research, University of Florida, Jan. 4, 2012

Email interview with Rick Harper, executive director, Office of Economic Development and Engagement, University of West Florida, Jan. 4, 2012

Email interview with Bill Seyfried, professor of economics, Rollins College, Dec. 30, 2012

Interview with Sean Snaith, director, Institute for Economic Competitiveness, University of Central Florida, Jan. 2, 2012

Interview with Tony Villamil, dean, School of Business, St. Thomas University, Jan. 3, 2012