Republican Party of Florida: Charlie Crist caused the global economic recession

At least that’s what the Republican Party of Florida would have you believe in their latest infographic, released on Wednesday.
Republican Party of Florida misleading infographic claiming Charlie Crist caused The Great Recession

Let’s take a closer look at this infographic, and take a “hard look at the facts” which the RPOF clearly avoids in this visual.  There are two basic arguments that this visual attempts to make.Failed Infograph Visual of Crist Causing The Great Recession  The first argument is that former Governor Charlie Crist was solely responsible for the entirety of jobs lost during his term in office and the resulting increase in the unemployment rate in Florida, disregarding any outside economic factors.  Second, the decrease in the unemployment rate in Florida since December of 2010 (over a month before Governor Rick Scott took office), and the addition of all private-sector jobs during this period, is due entirely to Gov. Scott being in office.

As we all know or should know, beginning in December of 2007 the United States and the entire world entered an economic recession not seen since The Great Depression.  In January 2011, the U.S. Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission concluded: “The crisis was avoidable and was caused by: Widespread failures in financial regulation, including the Federal Reserve’s failure to stem the tide of toxic mortgages; Dramatic breakdowns in corporate governance including too many financial firms acting recklessly and taking on too much risk; An explosive mix of excessive borrowing and risk by households and Wall Street that put the financial system on a collision course with crisis; Key policy makers ill prepared for the crisis, lacking a full understanding of the financial system they oversaw; and systemic breaches in accountability and ethics at all levels.”

Surely, some would have been more than delighted to see former Governor Charlie Crist named as a cause to the global financial crisis.  However, if anyone suggested as much, they would be laughed out of the room, and seen as a fool.  Enter the Republican Party of Florida who makes this absurd claim yesterday.  No matter how much the RPOF wishes that Florida lives in vacuum devoid of outside forces, it does not.

As we continue down to the second argument of this infographic, the Republican Party of Florida emphasizes that NO credit to the economic recovery in Florida is due to President Obama.  In case we weren’t sure of their argument, they had to underline the word “no.”

Towards the end of former Governor Crist’s term in office, Florida was feeling the brunt of the recession.  Real estate is the largest single contributor to Florida’s economy, and was taking a nose-dive as the housing bubble burst. Contractors weren’t building new houses, and houses were being foreclosed.  Florida is still suffering from the worst foreclosure crisis in the country, where one in every 32 houses have received a notice of default, auction, or repossession in 2012, more than double the national average.

In April of 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill hit Florida and caused an extremely detrimental impact to the state’s economy, which heavily relies on tourism and the seafood industry.  This will also be argued by Florida’s own Attorney General Pam Bondi in the state’s upcoming lawsuit against BP, which seeks nearly $6 billion from BP for lost revenue.  A clear sign of the lasting economic impact of this tragedy is the Florida seafood industry has yet to fully recover, and it remains to be seen whether it ever will fully recover.

In 2012, Florida’s economy grew by a paltry .5%, one of the worst states in the country in terms of economic recovery.  But looking at this fancy infographic, it would lead you to believe otherwise, that Florida’s economy is leading the nation.

Let’s take the RPOF’s suggestion and take a “hard look at the facts” and look at actual graphical representations of the decrease in unemployment rate in the United States compared to the decrease in Florida.  Below are three charts, using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, updated May 20, 2013.

Seasonally Adjusted Unemployment Rate 2011-Present (United States vs. Florida)

Unemployment Rate FL vs. US 2011-present

From 1990-present, it is clear that Florida’s unemployment rate has a direct correlation to the overall unemployment rate for the country as a whole.  As the economy of the United States boomed during the Clinton administration, Florida followed suit.  As beneficial economic policies were honeymooned into the next administration, Florida saw a record low unemployment rate below 4%.

Seasonally Adjusted Unemployment Rate 2007-Present (United States vs. Florida)

Unemployment Rate FL vs. US 2007-present

Focusing on the period from 2007-present, Florida’s unemployment rate rises above the national average, but follows the same national trend during the global economic recession.  As the national economy has recovered under the Obama administration, Florida’s unemployment rate begins to fall beginning in 2010 (a year before Rick Scott took office in Florida), and only falls slightly below the national average in March of 2013.

Seasonally Adjusted Unemployment Rate 2011-Present (United States vs. Florida)

Unemployment Rate FL vs. US 2011-present

This chart gives us a closer look at the period since Rick Scott has been governor of Florida.  Florida’s unemployment rate is still following the national trend as economic recovery continues, albeit the Florida unemployment has finally dipped below the national average, which has happened historically as the national economy is healthy, as shown in the first chart.

Do these charts point to Rick Scott singlehandedly decreasing the unemployment rate, like RPOF’s infographic suggests? Hardly.  The people of Florida aren’t foolish enough to believe that Charlie Crist was the cause of the “crash,” and Rick Scott is the savior of Florida’s economy.  Nice try Republican Party of Florida, but Floridians aren’t the fools you’re looking for.


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