Lee unemployment rate at 13.7 percent
Lee County is still battling a high level of unemployment as 13.7 percent of the workforce was jobless in August.
Up from 13.3 percent in July, the county’s unemployment level has remained steady, if not gotten worse, year over year, as 13.4 percent of the population was out of work in August 2009.
Barbara Hartman from the Career and Service Center in Fort Myers said that despite the high unemployment level, job loss has slowed in the county, and some job growth has been seen in certain industries.
While there has been no earth- shattering, large-scale hiring events, she said there have been some companies that expanded their operations into Lee County and have hired locally instead of bringing in their own workforce.
“We’re attracting companies that have not only selected Lee County but also hired local job seekers,” she said. “We’re very pleased.”
Choice Environmental Services was recently contracted by the county to do trash and recycling pick-up in Lehigh, Buckingham, and East Fort Myers, Hartman said, and hired local truck drivers for those routes.
Hartman said TZ Insurance Solutions opened a call center and hired 30 people, while Goodwill Industries hired 24 people to staff two new South Lee County stores.
TZ Insurance Solutions will be hosting an open house for licensed insurance agents looking for employment on Monday, Sept. 20, 5 – 8 p.m., and Tuesday, Sept 21, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., at their office located at 12901 McGregor Blvd., Suite 1A.
Even with those small bright spots, Hartman said she’s not anticipating any major hiring events, but does think that as the county moves into its “season”, there will be bumps in retail and restaurant employment numbers.
“We’re definitely approaching a more productive time of year for employment,” she said.
Hartman said that 1,000 jobs were added between July and August this year, and that year-over-year Lee County has only lost 600 jobs.
Education and Health Services have continued to grow, and although growth was minimal at 100 jobs, Hartman said that particular category has seen steady job growth from month to month.
“Our job loss rate has slowed,” she added.
By far, Hendry County has the worst unemployment rate statewide with 20.6 percent of the population out of work, but that’s more than likely due to smaller population and a heavy reliance on agricultural work.
In the five-county area, Glades had 13.9 percent unemployment rate, Collier County had a 13.6 percent unemployment rate and Charlotte County posted 13 percent unemployment rate.
Overall, 11.7 percent of the state’s workforce is out of work, a figure that’s slightly higher then the July rate of 11.5 percent.
Earlier this week, the Cape Coral-Fort Myers metropolitan area was listed among five in the country that experienced the greatest increases in poverty last year.
Other areas that saw significant gains in poverty numbers included Modesto, Calif.; Detroit; Los Angles and Las Vegas, according to a U.S. Census information analyzed by the Associated Press.