By Daniel Tilson
When is a “good” job growth report bad news?
When it’s about Florida, and serves both to burnish Gov. Rick Scott’s ginned-up “job creator” status, and further the creation of a new socioeconomic order in the state.
The job growth report released this month by ADP Research Institute places Florida second nationally with almost 32,000 new private-sector jobs created in June. On the face of it, that seems like good news. That’s certainly how Gov. Rick Scott and other conservative Republicans running the state will spin it.
But strip away the face value of such statistics, and you’ll find the same trend that characterizes the entire Republican economic “recovery” of recent years. You’ll find about two of three of those new jobs is a low-paying service-sector one. This mirrors years of Florida job growth in predominantly low-pay, no-benefits, dead-end jobs. It also reflects years of Team Scott focusing on tourism, travel and leisure industries as drivers of post-recession economic growth.
Working middle-class Floridians know how stagnant wages and incomes have been for years now. We know how much harder economic advancement and upward mobility is to achieve. We know how little bargaining power we have left as workers in a state where private-sector union organizing is blocked by an awful “Right to Work” law.
Yet we keep hearing these reports of new job creation, economic growth, and recovery.
So where’s the disconnect, why aren’t we feeling all that recovery love too?
Well, rather than creating quality jobs by training and retraining workers; rather than creating quality jobs by rebuilding Florida’s crumbling infrastructure; rather than creating quality jobs by aggressively transitioning to clean energy sources; rather than creating quality jobs by using already allotted federal funding to modernize our rail and transportation systems; and rather than creating quality jobs by using already allotted federal funding to expand health care and insure up to a million mostly working, low-income Floridians … Gov. Scott and Republican allies have instead created a glut of grimly “going-nowhere-fast” jobs — and a huge burden for the middle class.
If you’re one of the millions stuck in such bad jobs, chances are you still have to rely on public assistance to care for your family. And if you’re a more fortunate middle-class taxpayer, chances are you’re helping cover the cost of all that newly necessitated public assistance. It’s not right, but it’s the way Florida’s powers-that-be want it.
Instead of successful socioeconomic balancing mechanisms we’ve used before in Florida, such as the estate and intangibles taxes (aimed only at the wealthy), and instead of ending the corporate welfare system for big business campaign contributors, Gov. Scott and allies have by now established a pattern of balancing budgets on the strained and breaking backs of Florida’s middle- and low-income families.
They’ve known all too well all along that over-reliance on creating bad jobs would successfully puff up their job and economic growth numbers, give them positive PR talking points — and grow a huge, working poor underclass that the middle class could be forced to subsidize, and be encouraged to resent.
And that leaves precious little time or energy left to question, much less fight the powers-that-be.
Daniel Tilson has a Boca Raton-based communications firm called Full Cup Media, specializing in online video and written content for non-profits, political candidates and organizations, and small businesses.