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Lee County unemployment drops again

By Staff | Apr 27, 2010

Lee County’s unemployment rate dipped slightly in March, from 14 percent down to 13.5 percent.

While the decrease is attributed to the temporary hiring associated with spring break, Barbara Hartman from the Career and Service Center in Fort Myers said good news, no matter how small, is a welcome commodity.

“Any decrease in the rate is a positive sign,” she said. “The seasonal hiring is really driving that.”

Between February and March, there were 1,100 new jobs in Lee county, mostly in hospitality and retail industries, though the health industry also saw some minor gains.

The construction industry continues to hurt, as it saw more negative job growth month to month.

Hartman expects the 2010 Census to have an impact on unemployment percentages for April.

While she did not know the exact number of temporary jobs the census was able to provide, she thinks it’s in the thousands.

“We would like to see the effect of the census hiring give us a bounce for next month,” she said.

Statewide, Florida posted a unemployment rate of 12.3 percent for March, up slightly from February’s revised rate of 12.2 percent.

In the five-county region, Hendry posted the worst unemployment rate at 14.1 percent, followed Lee at 13.5, Charlotte at 13.3 percent, Collier at 12.3 percent, and Glades at 11.5 percent.

The last time Lee County had an unemployment rate lower than the state’s overall percentage was February 2007. Lee County was at 3.4 percent, while the state was at 3.5 percent.

As the the county continues to discover how to chart its course to recovery, Hartman said there has been a small upswing in the number of employers looking to the Career and Service Center for help reaching out to job seekers.

While there there have been a few people to get work, even temporary or part time, its not enough to make a dent in the county’s unemployment figures.

“There has been some hiring going on, its just not reflected in the numbers yet,” she added.