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Struggling to make ends meet; union and government jobs; jail troubles across the state

A worker scans produce at the Walmart Supercenter in North Bergen, New Jersey.
Eduardo Munoz Alvarez
A worker scans produce at the Walmart Supercenter in North Bergen, New Jersey.

The U.S. job market has been incredibly strong, adding tens of thousands of jobs each month for the past three years and counting. And Florida’s job market has been one of the strongest. More jobs were created in Florida in July than in any other state.

Yet many workers continue struggling to make ends meet. Inflation, higher interest rates and the high cost of housing stretches the paychecks of a lot of people.


  • Alí Bustamante, Center for Labor Research and Studies at Florida International University, and the author of the annual “State of Working Florida” report.

Union membership and state government jobs in Florida

The strong job market across the nation has given employees more power to negotiate pay. It’s also helped boost union membership across the country compared to two years ago. Still, the proportion of workers belonging to a collective bargaining union continues falling. Only about one of every 17 workers is a union member.

It’s less in Florida, where union membership is among the lowest in the nation — where about one in 20 workers are represented by unions. Public worker unions here have new rules thanks to a new state law that went into effect this summer.

The law does not apply to private employee unions like the Service Employees International Union.

Meanwhile, the number of people working for the state government has been falling. In the past three years, the job market has grown by 15% while the number of state government jobs has dropped by more than 5%.


  • Helene O’Brien, state director of the Service Employees International Union.
  • Emily Mahoney, senior political writer at the Tampa Bay Times.

Jail troubles in Jacksonville and Miami-Dade

“Groundhog Day.” That’s how a judge described the situation within one of Florida’s county jail systems. “An incident away from a federal court order” is how a different judge described problems at another county jail in the state.

These two jail systems in Miami-Dade and Duval counties are 300 miles apart, but both are struggling with conditions for inmates.

As Miami-Dade jails await to find out if they can get out from under federal oversight, the jail system in Duval County is under increasing scrutiny, including from two state lawmakers calling for a Justice Department investigation after a sharp increase in the death rate of inmates.


  • Nichole Manna, reporter with The Tributary in Jacksonville.
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