More than four years after the Great Recession officially ended in June 2009, the financial condition of Florida and most other states is improving but it remains far from where it was on several key measures of fiscal health, according to a new report by The Pew Charitable Trusts' Fiscal 50: State Trends and Analysis.
The report examined tax revenues, employment rates, debt ratios and reserve funds and compared the fiscal health of each of the states. Florida fared worse when it comes to tax collections and employment but better in terms of reserves and debt.
According to the report, Florida collects 21 percent less in tax revenue’s as of June 20, 2013 than it did during its pre-recession peak, giving the state significantly less spending power than it had seven years ago. Only Alaska and Wyoming are further behind in restoring their tax collections to pre-recession levels, the report found, while Arkansas saw the least dip in its tax collections of any other state, followed by Illinois and Minnesota.
Florida's employment rate is also among the worst in the nation, the report found. The report measured the number of people ages 25-54 in the work force before the recession and again in 2013. It found that the 2007 employment rate in Florida was 81.1 percent and, in 2013, it was 74.8 percent, the third largest drop of any other state, behind only Nevada and New Mexico. Nationally, the average drop was 4.1 percentage points.
Meanwhile, Florida's reliance on federal dollars as a share of state personal income continues -- like other states -- to be the highest in history. Federal funds have largely driven growth in total state spending over the past two decades and, despite efforts by Gov. Rick Scott to routinely reject federal funds for numerous spending needs, that pattern is not changed.