Tag: jobs

"Slackers?" In Truth, Few Jobs Exist for the Jobless
January 13, 2011

Governor Rick Scott’s economic development transition team and some legislators have complained recently that Florida’s unemployed workers don’t look hard enough to find a job.  The transition team cited a study that was misused, its author said.  Now two new reports indicate just how difficult it is for the unemployed to find a new job.

Nationally, the U.S. Department of Labor reported, there were 4.6 jobless workers for every job available in November.  That’s three times more competitors for each job opening than there were in early 2007, when Florida employment began a long slide that resulted in more than one million jobless.

Nevertheless, legislators worried this week about jobless Floridians milking the unemployment insurance (UI) system.  (See “Florida senators target couch potatoes inflating state unemployment rate,” January 11, St. Petersburg Times.)

One state senator asked the state agency overseeing unemployment compensation to "distinguish between those who can't get off the couch ... and those who won't get off the couch" to hunt for jobs.  Another senator wanted to make sure the state eliminated “slackers and malingerers” who enjoy a “lifestyle” of receiving unemployment benefits without trying to work.

But the difficulty of job-seeking was illustrated in a report by Forbes.com that lists three Florida cities – Orlando, Jacksonville, and Miami – as among the 10 worst job markets in the nation.  The list was created using unemployment rates, JuJu.com’s monthly Job Search Difficulty Index for Major Cities, and analysis by Moody's Economy.com.

It’s not as if Florida’s unemployed are living it up.  The maximum weekly benefit for an unemployed worker is $275 a week, lower than all but three states.  Less than half of the unemployed even qualify for benefits because of Florida’s antiquated UI system. 

Furthermore, Florida’s UI system is among the cheapest in the nation for employers.  Only the first $7,000 of a worker’s salary is taxable to the employer – lowest in the nation.  Even after unemployment tax increases this year to strengthen the unemployment insurance trust fund, the maximum tax on Florida employers per worker ($378 annually) will be among the lowest of the 51 states and District of Columbia.

Even so, the new administration and some legislators want to “reform” the system as part of efforts to make Florida the most business-friendly state in the nation.

The American UI system was created in 1935 as a response to the Great Depression, when millions of jobless workers and their families suffered.  Without wages, they couldn’t buy goods and services, leading to more layoffs and a collapse in economic activity.

The system remains vital today not only to the more than one million Floridians and their families who receive payments, but also to thousands of businesses where the unemployed spend their benefits on products and services. 

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Jobless Benefits for Floridians Await Legislative Action
July 16, 2010

The decline in Florida’s unemployment rate from 11.7 percent to 11.4 percent in June masks some less positive news.  Florida actually lost 1,900 jobs, which means some workers apparently have dropped out of the job market.  More than one million Floridians remain jobless.

Their plight may become even worse.  Unless the Florida Legislature acts, tens of thousands of jobless Floridians will be denied extended unemployment benefits funded by the federal government. 

After months of dispute, Congress finally appears on the verge of appropriating funds for the additional jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed.  But Florida law now prohibits jobless payments approved after June 5.

That one sentence in Florida law will result in the denial of benefits to 35,000 Floridians who exhaust their jobless payments each week.

It seems like a no-brainer:  making a slight change in Florida law to allow about $290 million in federal funds to flow directly to Floridians.  In addition to providing critical support to these workers, each dollar spent on unemployment benefits generates $1.64 in economic activity.   With Florida’s economy struggling to grow, that money will help businesses when jobless workers pay housing costs, buy food, and pay for other costs of living.  Without it, Florida’s recovery will be slower.

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Florida Jobs Increase in April
May 24, 2010

April’s unemployment figures provide more evidence that Florida’s job losses may have bottomed out in January, and that a long, slow recovery is in its initial stages.

For one thing, Florida’s unemployment rate declined from 12.3% in March to 12.0% in April.  In addition, the state added an estimated 15,500 jobs in April.

In January, jobs in Florida totaled over 900,000 fewer than in March 2007, when the state’s jobs slide began.  Since the end of January, though, about 37,000 new jobs have been added – compared to increases of 100,000-200,000 jobs per year during the height of Florida’s boom in the mid-2000s.

As might be expected, jobs in the leisure and hospitality industry rose in April – although they still remain lower than in April 2009.  Over the past year, the only employment sectors to show significant job growth have been private education and health services, led by ambulatory healthcare services.

Tags: jobs
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