Gov. Rick Scott's chief economist, Rebecca Rust, was recruited today to provide some political cover to the governor amid new reports that suggest that a major reason why Florida's unemployment rate has dropped is because of people dropping out of the labor force.
In an unprecedented memo released Thursday afternoon, the normally clinical Rust referred to recent unnamed economic studies. "It remains unclear why some economic analysis would rather highlight the negative factors of the economy when there are numerous indicators reflecting the improving statewide job market over the last two and half years," she wrote.
We're not sure what reports Rust is referring to here, but we are among several news organizations that have written about the distinction between the drop in the labor participation rate and the drop in the state's unemployment numbers over the last two years.The distinction was made again on Wednesday, when the state House and Senate appropriations staff and the legislature's Economic and Demographic Research jointly released the State of Florida Long-Range Financial Outlook and observed a "conundrum." Despite an unemployment rate that is below the national average, Florida "is still 515,100 jobs below its peak during the boom," the report concluded, and that "simple rehiring, while necessary, will not be sufficient to trigger a robust recovery."