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Unemployment rate dips in Lee

By Staff | May 22, 2010

Lee County’s unemployment rate for April was 12.7 percent, down from 13.5 percent in March.
While still high, April’s percentage marks the most significant drop in unemployment that Lee County has seen in many months, down considerably from January’s 14.2 percent unemployment rate, a county record.
Barbara Hartman from the Career and Service Center in Fort Myers said she thinks hiring associated with the 2010 Census had an impact on the unemployment numbers.
The census employed 200 people locally, she said, adding that self employment also has had a considerable affect on the unemployment numbers.
“We are starting, finally, to see the census hiring reflected in our local data,” Hartman said. “It’s a significant decrease, and good news for our community.”
Unemployment for Florida, overall, also fell, though not as significantly as it did in Lee County.
The state’s unemployment rate for April was 12 percent, down from 12.3 percent in March.
With the British Petroleum oil spill still threatening Florida’s coastline, and the jobs that tourism brings, Gov. Charlie Crist put out a statement Friday addressing those concerns.
Crist realizes that if beaches shut down, so do the jobs.
“I am … making sure the world knows that Florida is open for business. Florida beaches have not experienced any impact from the oil spill in the Gulf at this time, and we are continuing to work to reduce its effect on our economy,” he said.
In the five-county region, Charlotte, Collier, Hendry, Glades and DeSoto counties also saw significant unemployment percentage decreases.
Charlotte was down to 12.5 percent in April, from 13.3 percent in March; Collier is down to 11.4 percent from 12.3; Hendry was down to 13.3 from 14.1; Glades was down to 10.8 from 11.5.
Hartman said she would have to see at least six straight months of decreases before she believes a trend would emerge, but is not discounting April’s numbers.
“Its a big deal,” she said. “It’s the biggest decrease we’ve had in a while.”