The unemployment rate in Florida recorded a stark fall to 6.4 per centper cent in November, lower than 6.7 per centper cent in October and about eight per cent about a year back. Only New Jersey and North Carolina have shown such positive statistics in their jobless rate over the last year. But critics say that economic recovery in this context can be an extremely selective exercise.
Recovery or otherwise
Governor Rick Scott prefers to publicize the unemployment number as the baseline, which he announced last Friday. It shows that Florida has a starkly lowered unemployment compared to national rate of seven per cent. The Governor also added that the state witnessed such growth in employment after a period of more than five years.
But, when a few other numbers are considered, it can be inferred that the state has not made as stunning a recovery as it is made out to be. Only 6,100 jobs were added the previous month, a large decrease from October, when it added 44,000 jobs. The last year saw a growth in the working age population by 214,000 and the labor force of the state decreased by 9,000 at the same time.
According to economists, the mix of a shrinking labor force and an increasing population indicate that there are a number of individuals who have simply given up searching for work and thus ignored in statistics related to unemployment.
According to Sean Snaith, Director, University of Central Florida’s Institute for Economic competitiveness, the decreasing labor pool is populated by the aging Baby Boomer generation in the cusp of retirement, but they are probably discouraged workers. When these individuals re-enter the labor market at a future point in time, they will increase the competition and with probability, the rate of employment too.
Snaith has noted that a wider Florida unemployment measure, the part which includes part timers and discouraged workers, who want full time work, but are unable to find it, fell from 15.1 per cent to 14.6 per cent in the second and third quarters of 2013.
Florida is not the lone state to see a drop in labor participation. According to the Economic Policy Institute, It is estimated that about 5.7 million individuals who are not in a job and not actively searching for one, due to the recession, are termed “missing workers”.