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Local unemployment numbers decline

By Staff | May 25, 2011

Unemployment continues to declines in Lee County, and Florida, falling from 11.2 percent in March to 10.8 percent in April.
The unemployment rate was 12.1 percent in April 2010.
The continued decline month over month is due to added jobs in the retail industry, according to Southwest Florida Works’ Barbara Hartman, who said there were 500 new jobs in that sector between March and April.
Hartman said the rise could signal an added confidence among consumers in general and, in turn, the economy.
“The consumer confidence is growing and they have more spending money and the confidence in the economy is growing,” she said. “People have more discretionary income.”
Florida posted the same unemployment rate as Lee County at 10.8 percent and that is the lowest rate since September 2009.
With 996,000 people out of work in Florida from a labor force of 9,245,000, it’s the first time since October 2009 there are less than 1 million people out of work.
In the five-county region, only Glades County saw a slight bump in its unemployment rate, from 8 percent in March to 8.3 percent in April.
Charlotte County fell from 11.0 percent to 10.6 percent; Collier County fell from 10.2 percent to 9.7; and Hendry fell from 13.1 percent to 12.8 percent.
The number of construction jobs continue to decline, Hartman said, losing another 600 jobs from month to month.
Although that industry continues to struggle, growth in retail and health and education offers some bright spots for the county and the region, according to Hartman.
With four straight months of declines in the local and state unemployment rates, Hartman said it could signal continued declines in the months ahead.
Hartman said she expects May’s numbers to decline as well.
“I do think it signals a trend,” Hartman said. “It’s going to be a slow recovery, but that’s what we want. Its better to have a gradual return to normal because we want to be able to sustain the growth.”
Unemployment numbers for May are due June 17.