Center for American Progress Action

RELEASE: New Report Tracks Florida’s Progress Toward Cutting Poverty and Expanding Opportunity
Press Release

RELEASE: New Report Tracks Florida’s Progress Toward Cutting Poverty and Expanding Opportunity

Washington, DC – With over one million Americans set to lose unemployment insurance at the end of this month, Half in Ten today released a new report that ranks how the 50 states are faring on 14 different indicators of economic security and opportunity.  The report finds that while in 2012, the official poverty rate in the United States was 15 percent, in Florida the poverty rate was 17.1 percent, ranking it 34 among other states in the country.

Across the 14 different indicators, Florida is doing the best on its rankings for the gender wage gap, children living apart from parents, and the teen birth rate:

  • Florida ranks the 5th best on the gender wage gap out of all 50 states and D.C.  A woman in Florida earned 84 cents for every dollar a man earned working the same job in the state in 2012.
  • On hunger children living apart from families Florida ranked 11th. In 2011, 5 out of every 1,000 children—or 350,000 nationally—ages 18 and younger in the United States resided in the foster care system.  But in Florida, 4 children lived in foster care for every 1,000 children under age 18 in 2011.
  • Florida ranks 26th in teen birth rate.  29.5 births took place in Florida for every 1,000 women ages 15 to 19 in 2011.

In contrast, Florida is doing the worst on unemployment insurance coverage, health insurance coverage, and the availability of affordable housing:

  • It should come as no surprise that Florida was the worst ranked state in unemployment insurance coverage. Effective in June 2011, Florida, which had an unemployment insurance coverage rate of 16 percent in 2012, passed a law that imposes severe new obstacles to unemployment benefits, which has resulted in fewer new applicants receiving benefits. It is also among the states that only allow recipients to receive benefits for 40 to 42 weeks, which is a shorter time period than most.
  • In lack of health insurance coverage, Florida ranked 49th out of all 50 states and the District of Columbia.  Despite the fact that 37 percent of people under age 65 and below 138 percent of the poverty line in Florida did not have health insurance at any time in 2012, the state has chosen not to move forward with Medicaid expansion.
  • When it comes to providing affordable and available housing, Florida ranks 49th.  Florida had 38 apartments or other units that were affordable and available for every 100 renter households with very low incomes in 2011. Very low-income households are those with incomes at or below 50 percent of the area median income.

The bottom line is this: Low-income families in states across the country are suffering from too many years of reckless efforts to reduce the federal deficit. Although many states need to improve local policies—especially those that hinder the ability of low-income families to access federally funded programs—the state-by-state results from our indicators show that the budget choices we make at the national level have consequences.

It’s time to reset the debate. It’s time to reinvest in our economy and build a better path to shared opportunity for families that are still struggling, even in a slow-growing economy. Although not ideal, the recent budget agreement reached by House and Senate negotiators will reduce the harmful effects of sequestration and represents a positive step in the right direction, but still doesn’t make the investments our country needs to get our country back on track.