Saturday, June 8, 2013

Can Florida's Food Stamp Governor Win In 2014?


Florida's economy is once again shaping up to be the number one issue in the 2014 gubernatorial race.  But can Florida's food stamp governor win on his economic record in 2014?  Well, in a match-up between Florida Governor Rick Scott and former Florida Governor Charlie Crist, that could all depend on just who Florida voters think is Florida's food stamp governor.


According to the latest U.S. Government revised data from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP or also referred to as food stamps), the number of Floridians on food stamps was 3,566,784 in March 2013, a 6.6% increase compared to March 2012. Florida food stamp enrollment grew at twice the national rate for the same time period.


Although there are a half-million more Floridians on food stamps now than when Scott took office, that number pales in comparison to the 1.7 million Floridians that were added to the food stamp rolls when Crist was Governor:


SUPPLEMENTAL NUTRITION ASSISTANCE PROGRAM:  
FLORIDA AVERAGE MONTHLY PARTICIPATION (PERSONS) 


FY 2007  FY 2008 FY 2009 FY 2010 FY 2011 FY 2012
1,232,803   1,454,928  1,952,362   2,603,185   3,074,671   3,353,064   


While the unemployment rate is the focus of many politicians, those numbers may not represent the true economic conditions that exist in both the State of Florida and across the U.S.  That's because the often-cited U-3 unemployment rate that makes news headlines does not count those in the labor force who have given up looking for work, are underemployed, have gone on disability because their unemployment benefits lapsed, or have gone to college and taken out student loans because they cannot find employment.  


In fact, individuals with disabilities are historically more likely to seek assistance from social insurance programs in an economic downturn than they are in a robust economy, according to a Social Security Administration policy analysis.  Following the financial crisis in 2007, the number of Floridians on Social Security Disability sharply increased by nearly 100,000 from 418,498 in 2007 to 517,600 in 2011. 


Another economic measure is the employment-population ratio which represents the proportion of the civilian non-institutional population that is employed.  This measure does take into account Floridians who left the workforce.  Florida's most recent employment-population ratio for April 2013 is 55.9%, up from 54.4% when Scott took office in January 2011. The rate fell from 62.2% to 54.4% while Crist was Governor from January 2007 to January 2011.


But even the employment-population ratio does not take into consideration when a Floridian loses a high-paying job and takes a low-paying job as a replacement.  So this leaves Food Stamp participation data as perhaps a more reliable indicator of the present economic conditions that Florida voters face.  


Although Scott ran as a jobs governor in 2010, most economists agree that any governor has little control over the broader economic conditions that affect their state and that governors deserve little credit, or blame, for economic upturns and downturns.


And before any blame or credit is assessed to Crist or Scott for economic numbers during their term in office, it should be noted that there is a significant lag time between policy implementation and results.  Sean Snaith, a University of Central Florida economist told the Tampa Bay Times / Miami Herald Politifact that, "The real measuring stick will probably be nine years from when he [Scott] took office.”



Florida jobs seasonally-adjusted by sector from when Charlie Crist took office in January 2007 to when Rick Scott took office in January 2011 to present (in thousands):

Industry Jan. 2007   Jan. 2011    April 2013
Leisure & Hospitality 978.0         943.3 1027.2
Construction 662.1339.6354.1
Manufacturing 408.6 310.4313.1
Professional & Business   1168.01027.61086.0
Education and Health       1002.7        1083.6        1126.8    


SIMILAR STORIES:

Authorities Monitor Social Media For Florida Food Stamp Fraud

Tax Money For Confusing Florida Jobs Numbers Explained

Governor Rick Scott's Job Approval Rises Above 40%

Charlie Crist Comes Out of Closet - He's A Democrat

Scott Cites Space Coast On His Florida Job Growth Record

Report Rips Enterprise Florida 

Florida Tax Money For A Bass Pro Everywhere We Go?

Contract Controversy Taints Florida Governor's Jobs Campaign

Unemployment Benefit Cuts Coming To Florida