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Congressman Gus Bilirakis

Representing the 12th District of Florida

Small Business Week

May 16, 2014
Bilirakis Blog

Florida’s economy is rebounding. In the Tampa Bay area – defined as Pasco, Pinellas, Hillsborough, and Hernando counties– the labor force has increased and the unemployment rate has decreased every year since 2009. The products of pro-growth policies at the state level have contributed to this growth. I have long supported policies that would encourage the private sector to flourish, and am excited to help promote one of Florida’s biggest job markets – the tourism sector.

Tourism and travel employ over one million Floridians.  In recent years, tourism to Florida has resulted in more than $70 billion for its economy.  According to VISIT Florida, every 85 visitors to our state results in a new job created. That is why I have introduced the Travel Promotion, Enhancement, and Modernization Act, which would extend the activities of Brand USA - a public-private partnership that markets the United States as a tourism destination - through 2020. This will continue to bring jobs and economic growth to Florida. It is a priority of mine to bring jobs and economic opportunity to our area and state.

Unfortunately, Florida’s trend is not reflected nationwide. In April, 2014, the labor force participate rate (LFPR) dropped to the lowest point since the late 1970s, and the lowest since the economic recovery nationwide began. The nationwide reduction in unemployment is a misnomer – over 800,000 Americans gave up looking for work in April. These discouraged and part-time workers want full time work, and the opportunities simply aren’t available.

The House has passed over 40 jobs-related bills that will promote private sector growth that are stalled in the Senate. The President and the Senate must work with the House. I still believe Congress can work in a bipartisan manner to send legislation to the President that will boost economic growth. The government rarely creates jobs, but can create an environment in which the private sector will grow and create well-paying jobs. A historically low LFPR does not have to be the new normal. We can get America back to work by working together, and I am committed to doing that on behalf of my constituents, Floridians, and hard-working Americans across the nation.