Last month Gov. Rick Scott bragged that the unemployment in Florida had dropped a tenth of one percent, with 64,000 jobs added between January and July. True enough, but now it turns out that more than half those jobs were health care, food service and hotel gigs paying low wages with little to no benefits, according to a report issued this week by Florida International University's Research Institute on Social and Economic Policy.
What's more, the study's authors say that Scott's policies played little role in creating the new jobs, which on average pay only $19,000 a year.
The slight job growth has more to do with the recession finally "bottoming out" than with any job plans sponsored by Scott, says Emily Eisenhauer, a research associate who helped author the report.
Here are the numbers: Of the 92,400 new jobs, 47,000 were in the accommodation and food services industry. Over 23,000 of these type of jobs were created in September alone -- a 6.4 percent increase from last year.
Florida is a big tourist destination, so hospitality and restaurant jobs are an important part of the economy, says Eisenhauer. But if workers are going to such jobs from higher paying, more stable industries, it's not exactly great news for Florida's economy.
"It's a fall-back for people who need jobs," says Eisenhauer, "but it brings a pretty high cost to it. If you're coming from a higher-wage job, then it's going to impact your quality of life. If it doesn't pay enough to support yourself, then it's not really a job."
With Florida having one of the highest rates of uninsured people, the fact that so many of the recently created jobs carry little or no insurance is also concerning.
"Having insurance is something we generally need for public health and the health of society," Eisenhauer says.
There is some hope that growth in low-wage industries could mean a bigger bounce-back for the rest of the state, though.
"Any job growth is a good sign," says Eisenhauer. "We start to see growth in a couple of sectors and hopefully that spreads to other sectors ... With a 900,000 job deficit, I think we need all types of jobs."
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