Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Data Is the Same, but Messages Differ

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Data Is the Same, but Messages Differ

Article excerpt

The glass is half-empty/half-full debate over Florida's economy continues between Gov. Rick Scott and Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney.

The latest employment numbers showed Florida's unemployment rate rising by 0.2 percent in July, with the state losing 3,300 jobs. The 8.8 percent unemployment rate was the first rise in the state rate since June 2011.

Nonetheless, Scott continued his message that he is leading the state toward an economic recovery.

While acknowledging "fluctuating month-to-month" unemployment numbers, Scott pointed to positive annual job growth that has occurred for the last two years -- that is measuring one month's employment numbers against the same month in the previous year. For July that meant a gain of 69,900 jobs, compared to July 2011.

Scott also cited the 130,700 "private sector" jobs that have been created since December 2010. He has noted the 8.8 percent rate is 2.1 percent below the 10.9 percent unemployment in January 2011 when he first took office.

"While the unemployment rate can vary from month to month, Florida continues to see positive private sector job growth," Scott said in a statement. "My goal remains the same, to make Florida the number one business destination in the world by improving the state's economic climate, highlighting our talented and skilled workforce and getting Floridians back to work."

But with Florida a critical state in the matchup between Romney and President Barack Obama, the Romney campaign issued a statement criticizing the latest Florida unemployment numbers and putting the blame on Obama.

"New state-by-state jobs numbers are out and they aren't good," Jeff Bechdel, a spokesman for the Romney campaign in Florida, said in statement. "In all, unemployment rose in 44 states in July, including Florida. The Florida unemployment rate rose from 8.6 percent to 8.8 percent in July, as the state lost another 3,300 jobs. More than 800,000 Floridians remain jobless, 42 months after Barack Obama and Charlie Crist stood on stage in Fort Myers and promised spending money we could not afford would lower the unemployment rate. …

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