PBS and NPR for Southwest Florida
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

May Unemployment Numbers Show State Gains, Local Losses

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity has released May local and state unemployment numbers.

Unemployment dropped a percentage point to 7.1 percent, the lowest it’s been since September 2008.

Governor Rick Scott said the job market is growing. 

“The unemployment rate’s coming down,” Scott said. “330,000 private sector jobs and that’s what I’m going to continue to focus on every day.”

But in Southwest Florida, unemployment rose from 6.6 to 6.9 percent.

The numbers sit below the state rate.

Hendry County has the highest unemployment rate in the state at 11.1 percent. In Lee County, the number jumped two percentage points to 6.9 percent. Collier County’s numbers rose from 6 to 6.4 percent.

The main contributor to Lee County’s rise was a loss of 1,500 jobs in the hospitality and leisure industry. Spokesperson for Southwest Florida Works Barbara Hartman said these numbers are typical in the area’s seasonal tourism-based workforce.

“It’s more of a seasonal, natural occurrence for us,” Hartman said. “Although, it is coming a little bit early.”

But, Hartman said some sectors grew, like the addition of 500 construction jobs in May.

“Construction has many higher paying jobs and that has a ripple effect on all the other industries,” she said.

Southwest Florida’s numbers are down from last year’s unemployment rate of 8.7 percent.

Topher is a reporter at WGCU News.