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Lower FL Unemployment Rate Isn't the Whole Story

May 28, 2013

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - With Florida's unemployment rate down to just above 7 percent, the state's Community Action Agencies say they still are not seeing a decrease in the number of people who need assistance. The 27 agencies in the state help more than 500,000 people a year with their utility bills or rent payments.

According to the Executive Director of the Florida Association for Community Action, Wilma McKay, helping people recover from the recession is about more than job creation.

"If these jobs are creating more working poor, yeah, then unemployment figures are going down - but are these people really doing any better?"

Community Action Agencies also help people find ways to advance their education, locate affordable housing, and educate their children. McKay said they have have seen increased needs in those areas too, as the number of jobs has decreased.

According to an economist for the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Steve Rondone, the numbers indicate Florida is seeing job growth across most sectors.

"It affects most individuals who are looking for either highly skilled work force in the trade, transportation, as well as leisure and hospitality; so, it crosses all educational lines."

Rondone said the job categories with the most growth in the past year have been in construction, manufacturing, and the leisure and hospitality sectors. However, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says the average wage for a non-manager in those leisure and hospitality jobs is just about $11 per hour, while a living wage in Florida for an adult supporting one child is almost double that.

Stephanie Carroll Carson, Public News Service - FL