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Low unemployment impedes recruitment goals at FSW job fair

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Law enforcement agencies across southwest Florida are in full recruitment mode, which brought Detective Jose Gomez to the Fort Myers campus of the Florida SouthWestern State College on Thursday.

CareerSource Southwest Florida launched its first, Fall Hiring Event Thursday. Hundreds of people walked among the booths, dressed professionally, and instead of having a gun on their person like Gomez, they were armed with their most recent resumes.

With the agency implementing new technology, Gomez wants to increase the size of the police force. The detective wants to fill over 60 positions. Collier and Charlotte County sheriff’s offices have similar human resources ambitions.

“Charlotte County is growing a lot,” Tabbatha Carter said, a lieutenant at Charlotte County Sheriffs Office. “We want to make sure we have enough people employed with the sheriffs’ office to help out the community.

Other employers at this job fair are facing similar issues due to low unemployment.

As of September, the national unemployment rate is 3.7 percent — it hasn’t been this low in nearly 50 years. While the Florida governor’s office is expected to release updated unemployment numbers on Friday, it is unlikely the rate will deviate much from its 3.7 percent, either.

Karen Celec, a nursing support recruiter for Lee Health, was at the event stationed with various items that she believes will reflect upon her employer favorably to new applicants.

“Retention is definitely a problem,” Celec said. “Somebody else may be paying a little bit more; people are looking at that.”

John Anderson, a manager a Sherwin Williams, wasn’t optimistic about his chances of securing talent. He was stationed nearby Celec. Like her, he also had items that help tell part of the story about the company where he works.

“It says it’s a great economy to live in,” Anderson said. “It’s really the benefit of the employee not the employer.”

Logan Harper agrees with Anderson. He feels like he has the power in negotiations with the booming economy.

“It makes me a bigger commodity,” Harper said. “They have to chase after me, [not] the other way around.”

As for Detective Gomez, he’s confident the department will fill the positions quickly.

“When it comes to law enforcement, the more the better,” he said.