Gov. Scott says 230,000 fewer people receive unemployment compensation since he took office

A radio host recently asked Gov. Rick Scott for an update on his trademark 7-7-7 plan -- creating 700,000 jobs in seven years in seven steps. (We're tracking that promise on the Scott-O-Meter.)

Scott said Florida’s economy is getting better in a lot of ways.

"We’re doing well. We’re at a three-year low on our unemployment in this state... We generated around 100,000 net jobs so far, if you look at the federal numbers," he said in the April 18, 2012, interview with Orlando-based station WDBO. "But if you look at the state numbers, about 230,000 people that were on unemployment when I took office are not on unemployment now.

"When you look around the state, tourism is up, the home market’s up, home sales are up, home prices are up. … So good things are happening, but we still have 900,000 people out of work," he said.

What stuck out to us is his claim that 230,000 fewer people receive unemployment benefits than when he took office 15 months ago. That sounds like a drastic decrease, which Scott is taking credit for and in turn using as evidence that the state’s economy is improving.

A spokeswoman with the state’s Department of Economic Opportunity, the agency that manages the unemployment compensation program, responded to our request about Scott’s claim. Spokeswoman Nancy Blum said the number of people receiving unemployment compensation dropped from 561,736 on Jan. 31, 2011, to 345,052 on March 31, 2012. That’s a total decline of 216,684.

That’s pretty close to "about 230,000," which is the number Scott offered. . . .
. . . Some experts also pointed to the contracting size of the labor force, which helps to lower the unemployment rate but also indicates some people are no longer looking for work. About 15,000 people left the labor force from February, according to the state’s March 2012 labor report.
The 15,000-person drop in the labor force was part of the reason why the unemployment rate fall from 9.4 percent in February to 9 percent in March.

"Some of those are people whose benefits ran out and are now not looking for work," said Chris McCarty, director of the University of Florida’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research. "Some of those are retirees who have left the labor force permanently."
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Gov. Scott says 230,000 fewer people receive unemployment compensation since he took office - Tampa Bay Times • Miami Herald PoltiFact Check Florida - April 27, 2012