In the working-class town of
"I want to hear Hillary and Trump talk about how they can affect people like us," said Lopez, who aspires to join the
Next door, at
"It worries me," said Solla, a nurse at
Yet in poll after poll this election cycle, voters identify jobs and the economy as their top concerns.
"You cannot underestimate how household finances affect everything," said
The USF/Nielsen poll found that the top concern of voters is the economy, and 63 percent of Floridians report feeling financial stress in their households. Of those, 28 percent considered the top threat to the state's economy to be the lack of well-paying jobs, and 51 percent support an increase in the state minimum wage to
"It's still the No. 1 concern of everybody on an open-ended question," said
Why don't voters feel the recovery?
The reason lies deep within the data.
An economic analysis compiled for the
"The collective economy of the state is under performing compared to the national economy and other states," said
The data show:
--Median household income, accounting for inflation, has dropped 10.5 percent statewide since 2007. Although many parts of the state saw household income rise in the last year, the statewide median of
--Average wages in 2015 were less than 2007 in 42 of 67 counties and the average weekly wage in
--Income disparity continues to grow between
The pattern is playing out in the rest of the country as well, with "pockets of winners and losers" as major metropolitan areas recover at a more steady clip than rural and suburban regions.
Impact on election
What does this mean for the election?
Voter perceptions of the economy have been critical to the outcome of presidential elections in the
"I don't really remember an election cycle that carried with it the degree of uncertainty that this one does," he said. "There is always the uncertainty that we are in a fork in the road but in previous cycles at least you knew where those roads would take you. This year, it's not entirely clear."
During the first debate between
Clinton promised to raise the "national minimum wage," guarantee equal pay for women's work, encourage corporate profit sharing with employees, increase paid family leave and earned sick days and work toward "affordable child care and debt-free college."
She said she would pay for it by "having the wealthy pay their fair share and close the corporate loopholes."
Trump answered that he would focus on stopping companies from allowing jobs to move overseas, reducing corporate taxes from 35 percent to 15 percent, make more child care affordable and renegotiate trade deals.
When the county-wide economic data is compared to the results of the presidential primary in March, there is a correlation between counties that overwhelmingly favored
The FIU data found that the average household income in
Poverty rates grow
The decline in household incomes also led to increased poverty rates among every demographic group in
Poverty rates increased in 52 of the 53 counties with reliable data, and 44 percent of the state's counties had poverty rates above the national average. All income classes experienced income declines between 2007 and 2015. However, those in the bottom 20 percent saw their incomes drop 17 percent in
According to the FIU State of Working Florida report, newly arrived immigrants, and foreign-born Floridians experienced a poverty increase of 14 percent in the past five years, compared to 10.6 percent for those born in the
At the heart of the restructuring is the steep decline in worker wages: 40 of
The biggest drop was in rural
"The nature of this recovery is deceptive in many ways," Snaith said. Normally, in a recovery low unemployment rates would be accompanied by "full employment and robust growth in wages and salary," he said. But this recovery is different. "We don't have full employment and rising wages."
As real estate, administrative and construction jobs have been replaced by lower-wage jobs in all sectors, the shift has led to a drag on the rest of the economy. In 40 of 67
"The most immediate implication is there is less money overall in the economy per capita," said Greiner of FIU. But, he added, the longer term impact is the inability of people to sustain any hit to their pocketbooks from increases in groceries, utility bills, transportation, taxes or the need to pay an insurance deductible from Hurricane Matthew.
"When someone is getting paid a good middle-income wage, they are spending more on restaurants, housing, clothing and maybe a car," he said. "When wage growth is low, their housing burden increases and it puts pressure on the average household to spend less on everything and save more."
Recovery is slowing
In the March primary, 42 percent of Republican voters supported Trump and just 22 percent chose Rubio.
At one end of the
"Things look like they are better, but really it's not," said
Bernado, who owns a transport company, immigrated to
State economists are already predicting the recovery will slow. In September, they reduced the state revenue forecast for the next two years, prompting calls for potential state budget cuts.
"We all know as economists you cannot produce jobs at nearly double the nation forever," said
Parrish notes that
Barriers to prosperity
Despite this influx of cash, the rising cost of housing and quality child care on top of wage stagnation are barriers to economic growth for many families, said
"Expanding economic opportunity exists in the state but for many Floridians it's out of reach," she said.
Although the recovery has lifted much of
"I barely can make my car payment," said Hunt, who hopes to graduate in February and get a job as a nurse making
He's voting for Clinton, he said. "I listen to my grandmother, and she says it's hereditary," he joked. But he has no clear idea what either candidate will do to put more money in his pocket.
"They spend all their time talking about each other that it's become a game," he said.
"It's clear that the people who have gone and gotten the better skills are doing better," said Parrish, the chamber's economist.
"It was very challenging -- one of the hardest things I've ever done," she said. "We had to cut back."
Solla, who as a suburban woman is part of the demographic group that traditionally decides American politics, said she's voting for Clinton, primarily because she wants to see better pay for women.
"I don't see
White retiree wealth
The county that has seen the highest spike in median household income from 2007 to 2015 --
Snaith, the UCF economist, says that retirees with financial assets have been among the greatest beneficiaries of the bullish stock and bond market and have seen their wealth rise. By contrast, the middle class, whose primary asset is often their homes, have not seen the gains in their home values recover to pre-recession levels.
Across the nation, Trump has his more reliable support among older, white voters.
"Have you seen the banners for Trump on the back of the carts?" asked
Morningstar, a former
Snaith warns that whoever is elected president in November, "it is highly likely the next administration will be dealing with a recession. We're in the eighth year of this recovery."
His outlook is grim. With slow growth in gross domestic product, declines in payroll and private investment spending,
Miami Herald Data Editor
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