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Local unemployment numbers increase slightly

By Staff | Mar 10, 2011

2011 began pretty much as 2010 ended for the unemployed in Lee County, as long-term job opportunities are still few and far in between.
January 2011 saw 12.7 percent of the county still unemployed, a very slight increase from December 2010 when 12.6 percent was the rate. December’s rate was revised from 12.5 percent.
Numbers remained consistent throughout the five-county region, as there was little change between December and January in Lee, Glades, Hendry, Charlotte and Collier counties.
Charlotte posted a 12.6 percent rate, Collier was at 11.7, Glades was at 9.1 and Hendry was at 14.2 percent for January.
Southwest Florida Works spokeswoman Barbara Hartman said the percentage rate was consistent with the decreases that began last year. In January 2010 Lee County had an unemployment rate of 13.1 percent.
“The stabilization in numbers is more telling of our road to recovery picture,” Hartman said.
Florida as a whole posted an 11.9 percent unemployment rate, down slightly from 12 percent in December. 1.1 million people in Florida are out of work, out of a labor force of almost 9.3 million.
Flagler County in northeast Florida has the highest unemployment rate at 16 percent, while Liberty and Monroe counties share Florida’s lowest rates at 7.6 percent.
Hartman said Lee County, and much of Southwest Florida, will see the unemployment percentages decrease following spring break, which acts as a culmination for the region’s “season” when snowbirds and snow-bound college kids invade.
“We should be seeing an improved employment picture. There is in increased hiring activity because of the seasonal influence. We’re at the peak of hiring for the year,” Hartman added.
Hartman said a “communications or cable company” was looking to add 60 customer services representatives soon, but the details are still being finalized.
Along with the season, jobs at Southwest Regional Airport have increased, as well as activity with staffing agencies.
“That’s often an indicator,” Hartman said of the relationship between staffing agencies and a healthier economy. “Employers are looking to expand their business but are not yet ready to make the permanent commitment.”
Full unemployment numbers for the state of Florida can be found at floridalabormarketinfo.com.