Unemployment numbers up 4 percent year-over-year
Lee County’s unemployment numbers for January came in at 14.1 percent, up from December 2009’s revised rate of 13.4 percent.
Year over year, the county’s unemployment rate rose 4 percent, as January 2009 had posted a 10.9 percentage rate.
Barbara Hartman, from Career and Service Center in Fort Myers, said the numbers were a lag indicator in the economy, adding that it could be a while before Lee’s jobless get back to work.
“I believe we’re seeing some signs of recovery, but we’re just going to have to ride it out,” Hartman said.
The leisure and hospitality industry saw 1,100 new jobs in January, as the county began to move into tourist season.
The education and health service sectors saw very minimal job growth, but remained fairly steady as they lost no jobs between the conclusion of 2009 and the start of 2010.
Trade transportation lost a number of jobs as seasonal positions expired following the holiday season.
And the construction industry again saw negative job growth, and will probably not see anything positive in the foreseeable future.
“There is hiring going on but not enough to affect the numbers,” Hartman added.
Statewide, Florida posted a 11.9 percent unemployment rate for January 2010, which is up from the revised 11.7 percent rate in December 2009.
Hoping to battle what is still an ongoing problem, Gov. Charlie Crist signed legislation on Wednesday that will reduce unemployment compensation tax for Florida businesses.
House Bill 7033 reduces Florida’s unemployment compensation tax for two years by delaying changes to the unemployment tax calculation methodology.
In a prepared statement Charlie Crist said, “I am grateful to the Florida House and Senate for quickly passing this pro-business legislation that provides an economic boost and much-needed tax relief for Florida businesses. This legislation will help prevent layoffs and encourage businesses to create new jobs immediately.”
Locally, Barbara Hartman said the Career and Service Center is helping a few employers find qualified people.
South Seas Island Resort on Captiva has and continues to hire for seasonal and permanent positions.
But the one opportunity that could provide hundreds of jobs for Lee County residents is the 2010 Census, according to Hartman.
“They have many positions,” she said. “There’s census takers, crew leaders, clerks, recruitment assistants … a lot of jobs.”
With the census set to begin April 1, Hartman said they’re still trying to put people into those positions.
People interested in pursuing those jobs first have to sign up for a test, which is then conducted at the Career and Service Centers, in Fort Myers and the Cape.
To sign up for the test, call 689-2100, or visit www.2010censusjobs.gov