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Unemployment numbers remain at record highs

By Staff | Jan 23, 2010

Lee County’s unemployment rate is still hovering very close to record highs for the month of December.
At 13.8, the percentage barely receded from November’s revised rate of 14 percent.
Barbara Hartman from the Career and Service Center in Fort Myers said there was job growth from month to month to close out 2009, but those jobs were likely tied to seasonal trends in retail.
According to Hartman, there 1,700 new jobs between November and December, with 900 jobs in retail alone.
There was some other growth –200 new professional business services jobs, and 200 new leisure and hospitality jobs among others — but the construction industry lost another 200 jobs.
Between December 2008 and December 2009, the construction industry lost another 5,000 jobs. That equates to 22.4 percent negative job growth, a sure sign that Southwest Florida’s once prosperous economic springboard has not come close to rebounding.
Hartman said the number of people in Lee County who are out of work decreased, but that might be a little misleading.
“I think that’s attributed to people dropping out of job hunting,” she said.
Hartman expects the leisure and hospitality industries to increase the number of jobs over the coming months, as the prime tourist season is fast approaching for the county.
South Seas Island Resort on Captiva is prepping for the season by hosting a job fair next week at the Career and Service Center.
Hartman said she didn’t know the exact number of jobs that will be available, but that South Seas is looking to fill positions such as line cooks, attendants, hotel operations, special event staff, and others.
She said job seekers should come prepared, dressed for an on- the-spot interview, with a current copy of their resume.
“Any employment growth would be welcome in our community,” Hartman said.
Within the five county region, Hendry County fared the best month to month, falling from 14.9 percent in November to 13.5 percent in December.
DeSoto County was next, falling from 11.2 percent in November to 10.6 percent in December.
Collier County was less dramatic, falling from 12.3 percent in November to 11.9 percent in December.
And, much like Lee County, there was no change in Charlotte, as November’s 13.1 percentage rate only fell to 13 percent.
For more information on the South Seas Island Resort job fair, call the Career and Service Center in Fort Myers at 931-8200.