Secrets of the Job Hunt


Saturday, September 06, 2008

Florida Job Growth Down, Says FIU Report

The last few months haven’t been easy for Florida job seekers. According to a recent report released by the Research Institute on Social and Economic Policy at Florida International University, unemployment has risen by 28 percent and job growth has drastically slowed down.

The study found that Florida job growth rose only 0.5 percent last year, which is significantly lower than the high of 4 percent experienced in 2005. The nation has a whole had a growth rate of 1.1 percent. Statistics show that now that the economy is becoming sluggish everywhere, Florida is being dragged down by the very industries that once held it above other states.

The report’s co-author, Bruce Nissen, a FIU professor of labor studies, said that the construction industry has had the hardest time. Approximately 54,000 jobs have been lost in this sector with in a relatively short time period. Only a few year prior, in the midst of a real-estate boom, Florida had a job growth rate that was higher than the country due to the accelerated need for new employees in the construction and real estate industry. Now, Florida is no. 1 in the nation in regards to foreclosures.

“These numbers show that Floridians have already begun to feel the effects of the slowing economy, job loss and flat wages,” said Nissen. “This, plus the simultaneous increases in the cost of living, makes the near future look very worrisome for working Floridians.”

The report found that wages remained flat last year and that the pay gap for minorities in Florida is growing wider. According to the report, one of the state’s seemingly best financial features is actually doing the area damage. The low tax rate is actually undermining growth, said Nissen and his colleague. Apparently, Floridians pay an average of 7.4 percent in state and local taxes. Although this is one of the lowest in the nation, most of these taxes are not tax-deductible. Because of this, the tax burden on residents is actually much higher than experienced outside of the state.

The FIU study does not leave the state with a dismal outlook and no hope of a solution. The writers included several steps that need to be taken in order to improve the quality of life for residents. A few of the suggestions made were that Florida officials expand the state’s job sector beyond tourism and real estate, work on the educational system, try to create a working relationship between academic institutions and near by industries and reform the state’s system of taxes.

"The challenge has to be met head on, with an understanding that all the parts depend on each other," said the report. "An employer needs educated workers. Those workers need good teachers. Good teachers need the support of taxpayers, and taxpayers need to understand how their money is being invested."

No comments: