Florida Governor Rick Scott flew into Southern California and spent Sunday and Monday trying to lure away shipping and logistics companies from the Ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach and San Diego. When Governor Brown was asked by reporters at the Colusa Western Days if he was concerned about Florida trying to poach jobs, Brown said, “They are coming here because this is where all the jobs are.”
Brown is correct that California has led the nation with +29,400 new jobs in the month of February and +476,400 over the last 12 months. But the recent rise comes after being tied for the worst reported unemployment in the nation through the end of 2013. Despite the better growth recently, California employment was so depressed during the Great Recession that the state has only moved up to a tie for the third worst unemployment in America.
After the nine months of bitter labor strife between employers represented by the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), whose members command average wages and benefits of about $1,200 a day, the parties settled on February 22, with the union dockworkers celebrating a five-year contract that features even higher wages and benefits.
But the work slowdown at 29 West Coast ports cost the US economy as much as $1 billion per day for months. Six weeks after the settlement, customers continue to suffer losses as fresh fruit and vegetables deliveries are still delayed by three to four weeks, and rice exports involving 20 percent of the crop are delayed by up to eight weeks.
Serial turmoil with dockworkers has resulted in late deliveries and rotting perishables becoming a way of life over the last two decades for West Coast port businesses.
Scott sent a letter to port operators last month, and Enterprise Florida, the state’s economic development arm, started airing radio commercials in Southern California highlighting Florida’s lower taxes, less regulation and better labor relations business climate.
Brown arrogantly responded that California is leading when it comes to job creation:
“We’re growing faster than the nation, so everyone wants to come to the Silicon Valley, to look at our bio and look at our agriculture,” Brown told KCRA reporters. “He’ll [Scott] find a few things here. I don’t find too many Californians going to Florida looking for jobs. “I hope he can find some, if anybody wants to move.”
Governor Scott, on his recruiting trip to the Golden State has touted that Chief Executive Magazine rated Florida as the second-best state in the nation for business, while rating California the worst state for business for the ninth consecutive year.
Governor Scott told frustrated logistic companies that a friendly environment for employers explains why Florida has had a lower unemployment rate than California every month for the last decade.