Business & Economy

Florida Gov. Rick Scott's visit to California: Fact vs fiction

Florida Governor Rick Scott spoke to a gathering of business leaders in Woodland Hills and part of his two-day trip to California.
Florida Governor Rick Scott spoke to a gathering of business leaders in Woodland Hills and part of his two-day trip to California.
Ben Bergman/KPCC

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Florida Gov. Rick Scott just wrapped up a visit to Southern California, talking up his state and talking down California. He spoke to about 100 business leaders at a luncheon in Woodland Hills, telling them that they should move to Florida. Here are some of the things Scott said, and how they square with reality:

"We have a much higher job growth rate than California has." (Scott told reporters Tuesday)

During the previous 12 months, U.S. Labor Department statistics show Florida (3.7 percent) had a slightly higher job growth rate than California (3.2 percent), though last month California led the nation in job creation, adding 67,300 jobs.

"We’ve made job creation a priority while Gov. Brown idly watches businesses flee California, which has the second highest unemployment rate of any state, only behind Mississippi." (Scott's letter to shipping executives last month) 

As of February, the last month for which Bureau of Labor Statistics figures are available, California was tied with Louisiana for the fourth-highest unemployment rate, at 6.7 percent. Florida's unemployment rate is 5.6 percent. (Mississippi and Nevada both have higher unemployment rates than California, as does the District of Columbia.)

"For 10 straight years, CEOs have ranked California dead last for its business climate." (Also in Scott's letter)

Scott appears to be citing a survey of 500 CEOs from the Chief Executive Network, which bills itself as "the premier North American nationwide professional peer membership organization for business executives of medium and small-sized businesses."

The organization ranked California – the land of Google, Apple and Disney – as the worst state for doing business 10 years running. But the Golden State is in good company. New York – the global financial capital – was ranked 49th. Florida ranked second, right behind Texas.

If businesses are coming to Florida, it doesn't appear to have sparked traffic at the state's ports. The state's share of the U.S. container market fell from 8.3 percent in 2000 to 7 percent in 2013, according to a December report from The Florida Ports Council. 

"You [California] have the highest poverty rate in the U.S." (Scott told reporters Tuesday)

From The Sacramento Bee last October:

California continues to have – by far – the nation’s highest level of poverty under an alternative method devised by the Census Bureau that takes into account both broader measures of income and the cost of living.

Nearly a quarter of the state’s 38 million residents (8.9 million) live in poverty, a new Census Bureau report says, a level virtually unchanged since the agency first began reporting on the method’s effects.

Under the traditional method of gauging poverty, adopted a half-century ago, California’s rate is 16 percent (6.1 million residents), somewhat above the national rate of 14.9 percent but by no means the highest. That dubious honor goes to New Mexico, at 21.5 percent.