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Area employment forecast ‘weak’ for upcoming quarter

By Staff | Jun 10, 2009

The employment outlook for the Cape Coral-Fort Myers metro area for the third quarter of 2009 is “one of the weakest in the nation,” according to a report released Tuesday from Manpower, an employment services company.
The majority of local respondents — 64 percent — to Manpower’s Employment Outlook Survey said they would maintain their current staff levels from July through September. Eight percent of local companies plan to hire more workers and 22 percent plan to cutback on their payrolls.
Although the employment outlook locally is bleak, the third quarter of 2009 looks better for hiring than the second quarter did.
“The hiring activity is expected to be slightly stronger than the previous quarter when 12 percent of companies surveyed planned to increase staff levels and 28 percent expected to cut payrolls,” Manpower spokesperson Judy Leppla said in the report.
Unemployment dropped last month, falling to 11.8 percent from 12.2 percent in April, but a genuine stabilization of the local labor market could be further away than the numbers would indicate.
Industries like construction — Cape Coral’s former cash cow — durable goods manufacturing, transportation and utilities, financial activities, professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, and government and other services plan to reduce their number of employees in the third quarter.
The local wholesale and retail trade and education and health services sectors will look to hire next quarter, while hiring in non-durable goods manufacturing and information is expected to remain stable.
Homer Sosa, manager of the Cape Coral Career and Service Center, said the health services industry is the main sector looking to hire right now.
“Right now, the medical field, that’s what they’re pushing. The retail, the hotels, everything else is pretty scarce,” he said, adding that the summer off-season for tourists is dampening the outlook for the hospitality sector.
One employer in the medical services industry, however, is not necessarily looking to hire next quarter.
Samira Beckwith, president and chief executive officer of Hope HealthCare Services, a nonprofit group specializing in end-of-life care that ranks as one of the top nongovernmental employers in Lee County, said demand and hiring has remained constant.
“I would say that our hiring needs are really staying about the same. We’re not seeing a decrease in need,” she said.
Nationally, 15 percent of respondents expect to add to their number of employees next quarter, whereas 13 percent expect a reduction.
While the labor market attempts to sort itself out, Sosa continues to help people at the ground level.
“It’s pretty steady all day long. We keep putting orders in every day,” he said.