Editorial: Florida’s low wages are nothing to brag about, Gov. Scott

California Gov. Jerry Brown lifts a signed bill creating highest statewide minimum wage at $15 an hour by 2022 in Los Angeles on April 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

Gov. Rick Scott has spent the week on another job poaching expedition, this time in California. The prowling governor aimed to entice employers to move their companies to the Sunshine State.

His pitch: Wages are low in Florida.

What a terrible thing to brag about.

California, of course, has approved the nation’s first $15-an-hour minimum wage (followed quickly by New York), to go into full effect in 2022.

Scott responded by invading the airwaves in San Francisco and Los Angeles with a radio ad criticizing the higher wage and warning, “It’s time to leave California.” It was an outrageous ploy against another state, made worse by having been funded by Florida tax money.

Scott is definitely right that wages are low in Florida. Our state minimum is $8.05 an hour — $322 for a 40-hour week. California’s is now $10.

As The Post’s Jeff Ostrowski reports, Florida pay falls short of the national average. Weekly wages in Florida’s two highest-paid counties — Palm Beach and Miami-Dade — are $50 below the national norm. In May 2015, at least 109,000 of Palm Beach County’s 565,000 workers made less than $10 an hour.

Scott’s entire governorship is built on his laser focus on jobs. His website blazons the message across its home page: “Florida Private Sector Businesses have added 1,061,700 jobs since December 2010.” (Scott assumed office in January 2011).

The governor is right again. But the fact that so many of those jobs are low-paying is nothing to brag about.

It takes some nerve to travel to the home of Hollywood, Silicon Valley and more than 50 Fortune 500 companies and tell them how much better it is for business in Florida. In California, the median household income is higher than in Florida ($$60,500 to $46,100, according to the Congressional Joint Economic Committee) and the poverty rate is lower (15.8 percent to 16.7 percent).

California Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, taunted the Republican Scott’s “silly political stunts” in an open letter, pointing out that high-tax, high-wage California last year “added more jobs than Florida and Texas combined.”

“Rick, a fact you’d like to ignore: California is the 7th largest economic power in the world. We’re competing with nations like Brazil and France, not states like Florida.”


While in the Golden State, Scott has told interviewers that “by raising the minimum wage, 700,000 people are going to lose their jobs” in California.

Wrong. According to PolitiFact, California with the $15/hike is projected to gain 2.7 million jobs from 2012 to 2026, but would have 3.4 million jobs without it. That’s 700,000 jobs fewer — but workers aren’t “losing” those jobs. Job growth will be slower by that amount.

In those same years, Florida is projected to gain 1 million jobs — a nice increase, but a lot smaller than California’s.

If this election year is telling us anything, it’s that many Americans are frustrated that they are not realizing the benefits of the economic recovery. As we’ve said before, the answer isn’t to constantly chase low-skill, low-wage jobs. It’s to invest in education and higher-quality industries that encourage innovation in the knowledge economy.

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