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Positive sign? Job ‘recruitment’ seen in Lee County

By Staff | Oct 27, 2010

Florida has 27,000 more jobs than it did September 2009, but nearly 12 percent of all Floridians are still out of work.

Here in Lee County, there were only 100 new jobs year over year. And while that equates to less than a percentage point in overall job growth, Barbara Hartman said there were enough positive signs to indicate that, while minimal, things could be getting better in Lee.

“Recruitment activity has increased substantially. Employers are advertising a great deal more,” Hartman said. “It’s not reflected in the (unemployment) numbers, but in the number of employers calling us and scheduling job fairs.”

Hartman said “15-20” companies have used the Career and Service Center in Fort Myers for hiring events recently. She said that number is up considerably over the last two years.

She cites UPS — which is gearing up for its holiday hiring — as one of the companies holding job fairs. She also said Airport Terminal Services — which serves the international airport in a number of ways — as another company that recently hired through use of a job fair.

“So many of the traditional job fairs we had in the past each was being canceled because there was no need,” Hartman said. “But employers are more confident now and holding these fairs. We’ve had a good response from companies.”

Lee County’s September unemployment figures did not differ very much from August. 13.5 percent of Lee County’s workforce was unemployed in September, down slightly from the 13.7 percent posted in August.

Year over year, Lee County’s unemployed have had little reprieve. Lee County posted a 13.7 percent unemployment rate in September 2009.

Hendry County posted the the highest unemployment rate in the entire state, as 20.2 percent of its workforce is unemployed.

Hartman said that percentage is slightly skewed, because of their smaller population and their reliance on agriculture as an economic driver.

The rest of the five-county region fared similarly to Lee; Charlotte County posted a 13.1 percent unemployment rate; Collier 13.3; Glades 13.4.

Barbara Hartman said recent job fairs are “encouraging”, but realizes it will take time, maybe a long time, before Lee County starts to rebound fully.

“It’s very evident the hiring isn’t enough to offset unemployment data,” she said.

Unemployment figures for October are due on Nov. 19.