By Robert A. RochonPublished Feb 13, 2018 12:55:02Companies that rely heavily on government-subsidized contracts to maintain jobs in their communities say they are increasingly being pushed into the arms of private contractors who can charge more for services.
Companies in the Florida area of the southern Gulf Coast and Southwest region have been among the most vulnerable, as government contracts have shrunk and demand has decreased.
The jobs, however, are not coming from companies in the state but rather from companies that operate from overseas and those who are under contract to the Florida Department of Transportation, the Florida Economic Development Commission and the Florida Chamber of Commerce, according to the nonprofit group Florida Workforce Investment.
The Florida WorkForce Investment group has collected more than a half-million signatures on a petition urging Gov.
Rick Scott to reconsider state contracts with private contractors.
We want to give them another shot, we just don’t know how much longer.””
We know it’s a tough job and we know it hurts our economy.
We want to give them another shot, we just don’t know how much longer.”
In recent years, the number of contracts awarded by the Florida Workfirm Investment group have dropped by a quarter to 3,848.
Of those, 474 have been awarded to companies with fewer than 500 employees.
In some cases, the companies were awarded by contractors whose only connection to Florida is through the contract, said Kevin P. Hines, the group’s executive director.
There are still more than 300 companies with more than 500 workers in Florida that the group does not know about, he said.
The companies include the Florida Hospital Corporation, the Orlando Police Department and the state’s largest hospital system, the Hospital Corporation of America, Hines said.
The companies are among the largest employers in Florida and have an estimated payroll of $1.4 billion.
The businesses employ about 7,500 workers, or nearly 40 percent of the state workforce.
The number of private-sector jobs in the region fell 7.2 percent to 1,073 in the fourth quarter, according the latest figures from the Florida Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The decline was partly due to a decline in jobs for skilled workers and in manufacturing, the BLS said.
Industry officials say they’re struggling to keep up with the number and quality of jobs, particularly in the health care and construction sectors, as companies move overseas.
A study by the University of South Florida in January said the state has lost about 300,000 manufacturing jobs since 2011.
State Rep. John McGovern, D-Miami Gardens, said the lack of contracts has created a “very high degree of uncertainty” for small businesses.
Many of them can’t make ends meet on their own, he told the Miami Herald.
“There’s not enough jobs for everybody,” McGovern said.
“The business climate is very uncertain and businesses have a lot of money at stake in terms of their investments.”
In Florida, the lack the right workers has hurt small businesses in several ways, said David Wiles, an economics professor at the University at Buffalo.
The lack of a good job market has caused employers to cut hours or reduce workers.
And they have less money to spend on wages and benefits, he noted.
Florida’s unemployment rate is 5.2% — almost half of the national average.
The number of unemployed Floridians is higher than in any other state except Florida, according of the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.
A national average of 8.6% is the national rate, and the U,S.
Department of Labor has said the rate has remained relatively flat for decades.
Florida Workforce Investments said it is working with other state and local governments to address the challenges.