As Floridians head to the polls for today’s GOP primary, it is likely that many of Florida’s unemployed voters have been looking for a new job for a while. Florida has the highest long-term unemployment rate of any state, as 53 percent of unemployed workers in the state have been out of a job for six months or longer, according to Census data.
When the housing bubble imploded, so did Florida’s job growth. The state’s unemployment rate hit a high of 12 percent in December 2010 — one of the highest in the nation. Economists say it is improving, but slowly:
Although the market is starting to loosen up, there are four jobseekers for every open position in Florida, said Mason Jackson, chief executive of the WorkForce One career center in Fort Lauderdale. Businesses are still hesitant to hire because of continued uncertainty in the economy.
“If we filled every job we could find, 75% would still be unemployed,” Jackson said.
Nationally, 42.5 percent of unemployed workers have been looking for work for six months or more. Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) spent much of 2011 talking about the state’s one million unemployed workers and proposed tax credits to help spur job growth, which his aide admitted wouldn’t actually create jobs.
And the economic plans proposed by the leading GOP presidential candidates would not help Florida’s long-term unemployed workers either. Economists say Mitt Romney’s economic plan, which would lay off thousands of public sector workers, while doing nothing to alleviate the main drags on the U.S. economy. Newt Gingrich’s proposal, meanwhile, is based on a series of tax cuts that would give most of their benefits to the wealthy instead of aiding the middle and working classes.