In the relentless trashing by the mainstream media of everything Gov. Rick Scott does, there has been some pretty great news ignored lately.
Florida’s job creation numbers are stand-out strong since Scott took office in January. The state unemployment rate was 12% when Scott was inaugurated, but after five consecutive months of falling unemployment, it had dropped to 10.6% by June. Far from good, but definitely the right direction.
The state has averaged 12,000 new jobs per month since Scott became governor, after four years of falling employment. The economy has generated 85,500 net new jobs since January.
In May alone, Florida created 28,000 jobs while the rest of the country managed only 26,000. By contrast, two large states who look to raising taxes and rely on big government — California and New York — lost 29,200 and 24,700 jobs, respectively, in May. In June, Florida’s job creation fell to 4,300 new jobs, but still positive.
Meantime, the news accounts — not opinion, such as this column — focused on the “troubling trend” that job growth was in the lower-paying service sector, not in better-paying construction. This is the same media that loathed all the construction jobs because they represented growth and sprawl and the rest of the canards.
Naturally enough, the early recovery in Florida is centered on tourism, which has been booming and is replete with service-sector jobs. Tourism is one of our economic pillars and needs to be strong for the state to be vibrant. Housing industry problems go far beyond Florida’s borders, residing in the halls of Congress, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Wall Street securities bundlers and careless banks.
But even the caricature of only low-paying job creation misses a huge element in the numbers. The health-care industry, which pays much better than the construction industry, has added 24,500 jobs since January.
There is more good news for the future. Chief Executive magazine ranked Florida the third best state for business in May, up from the sixth best in 2010. That is clearly the result of Gov. Scott and the Republican Legislature, including eliminating some 1,100 state regulations. (Reminder: What’s good for business — employers — is good for those seeking employment.)
And then there is the bond rating improvement, which came about completely because of Scott and the Legislature. Good luck finding many stories on that in Florida, but it is more evidence of the market applauding his decisions.
Scott’s positive outlook is almost miraculous given the landslide of negative press. Asked on the Bill Bennett radio show recently about the impact of NASA’s shuttle operation ending, he did not whine and blame the feds. Instead, he seemed genuinely excited at the chance because, he said, there will be a lot of trained engineers available on the ground for companies coming to the state.
Given the overwhelmingly lopsided negative coverage of Scott, it is no wonder his poll numbers are low. But if Washington does not tank the national economy and pull Florida down with it, Floridians will increasingly come to appreciate the job Scott is doing, despite the misinformation they are fed daily in their local papers.
Rod Thomson can be reached at [email protected].