Florida Government Employment 2012-05-01 to 2012-05-31
Government employment dropped by three thousand employees in May, or just under half a percent, after adjusting for changes in the size of Florida's labor force. This decrease came mostly from the state level, where employment dropped by 4,500 workers, or 2.13%, after seasonal adjustment. Federal government jobs declined as well in May, shedding another 1,900 jobs, or 1.43%. Meanwhile, local government jobs increased on a seasonally adjusted basis, adding 2,500 jobs, or 0.34%.
Once again, Florida’s public sector employment declined, and so offers little stability to Florida’s recovery. This is, of course, part of Governor Scott’s strategy to cut the budget in an effort to increase private sector employment. Just recently, information from a leaked database made headlines in some Florida papers regarding $155 million in tax breaks and incentives to businesses that expand or relocate in Florida. However, some have pointed out that, even though Florida’s unemployment rate fell to 8.6% in May—a drop of 2 percentage points from a year ago—about 75% of this comes from individuals dropped from the labor force statistics, as they are no longer considered to be actively seeking a job. For example, if someone who was close to retirement gets laid off, they may simply choose to retire early rather than seek another job. The negative side of this scenario is that this person will not have as much savings as expected to retirement due to a forced early leave, and therefore will have less money to spend in Florida’s economy in retirement.
Hence, it is no surprise that state government jobs were the fastest declining portion of overall government employment in May. In fact, every MSA in Florida showed either decreasing or unchanged year-over-year state government employment in May, with the areas of Sarasota/Bradenton and Palm Bay/Melbourne both declining by more than 17%. Only one MSA managed to gain from the previous month—Pensacola at 1.67%–but since MSA-level data are not seasonally adjusted, this increase can likely be attributed to seasonal factors. Federal government employees didn’t fare much better, as no MSA advanced year-over-year in this category as well, although the worst performing MSA was not quite as dire as in the case of state government employment—Naples was the only to decline by double digits at 14.29%. On the other hand, local governments continue to fight hard to regain employment, as many of Florida’s local municipalities remain understaffed. In some cases, summer jobs that often go to high-school students (e.g., lifeguards at public swimming areas) are unfilled this year due to budget constraints. This trend may be on the rebound though, as local governments added jobs in May after seasonal adjustment, and ten MSA’s advanced year-over-year. It is, however, too early to determine if this figure will continue to trend upward. The restoration of $1 billion to Florida’s educational system added to the budget this year offers one piece of evidence to support public sector growth at the local level. This leaves us with some uncertainty with government jobs at the local level, but state government jobs are likely to continue their trend, as well as those of the federal government (at least for the time being). Therefore, we predict little change to Florida’s government jobs figure in June, remaining somewhere around 918.5.