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Local unemployment rate, job openings see increase

By MEGHAN BRADBURY / news@breezenewspapers.com

By Staff | Sep 1, 2020

Although there has been a slight uptick in the unemployment rate in Southwest Florida, there have been gains in three industries.

The July Labor Market Trends had a 10.7 unemployment rate, compared to June’s 9.8 percent unemployment rate. The unemployment rate for Florida is 11.5 percent, compared to June’s rate of 10.7 percent.

Southwest Florida experienced a gain of 1,200 jobs in construction, 300 jobs in government and 200 jobs in professional and business services. The professional business services increased by 2.1 percent and the construction field went up by 0.6 percent. The metro area had the highest growth statewide over the year.

“An interesting part of the Florida numbers is that even though the unemployment rates ticked up a bit, the number of jobs increased,” CareerSource Southwest Florida Communications Manager Janeth Castrejon said.

Castrejon said the state of Florida saw a big loss in the construction industry, which is typical in July.

“Southwest Florida remained quite strong. All five counties, we gained 1,200 jobs in construction. I’m happy to see that we remained strong in the construction industry,” she said.

She believes the increase in government jobs has to do with federal funding coming through the CARES program and passed through various counties.

“We did not have that the last month,” Castrejon said of the increase of 300 government jobs. “Month-over- month that was quite an interesting uptick. The counties have had to step up and have a need for additional jobs to process applications for this type of funding. From that perspective, there was a spike in government needs to meet the needs of distributing the CARES program.”

There is also an ongoing need for CNAs and registered nurses due to the higher numbers of positive cases during the COVID pandemic, Castrejon said. She said Lee Health is still continuing to find individuals to fill those positions.

“There are a few Lee County organizations that are starting initiatives to inform the community of the needs,” Castrejon said.

There is a virtual event to be held on Sept. 10, Become a Healthcare Super Hero, in which CareerSource is going to participate. She said the event will talk about what it takes to be in the medical field, as well as the needs for medical assistance and certified nursing assistants.

“There is an ongoing need in Southwest Florida. We will continue to have this need going forward,” Castrejon said.

The hardest-hit industry was leisure and hospitality with a loss of 16,100 jobs for the entire region and trade, transportation and utilities with a loss of 4,700 jobs.

Castrejon said one of the factors for the slight increase in unemployment numbers could be that bars were allowed to reopen in June, but they were suddenly forced to close in July.

CareerSource Southwest Florida has experienced waves of business with some days being busier than others of individuals seeking services. She said they have added a new feature on their website where clients can make their own appointments with them and request directly their specific need, whether it be their resource room, or help with job hunting and resumes.

“We haven’t quite seen a big peak in job applicants coming to see us,” Castrejon said due to the waiver by the governor on job search requirements. “However, I see a lot more requests for assistance in tuition and training.”

This goes along with trends that CareerSource Southwest Florida experiences during a recession, which she said we are officially in right now. She said when individuals reanalyze their own career path they seek guidance from them in terms of going back to school or seeking a certification.

Castrejon said they have a list of what industries are increasing and in demand as far as jobs.

“That is going to be a driver, I feel, as far as how they reintroduce themselves back into the workforce,” she said.

CareerSource Southwest Florida, due to the tremendous success of its past virtual job fair of 1,200 applicants reported by employers, will have another virtual event in either October, or November and again in January.

She said the next one will most likely focus more on the industries themselves.

“The virtual platform is the way to go at this time. The need is definitely out there,” Castrejon said.

For more information, visit www.careersourcesouthwestflorida.com.