SWFL jobless rate declines as more return to work; statewide unemployment increases

Reporter: Sara Girard Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:

Southwest Florida unemployment rates are going down, while the state’s number is going up as of May 2020.

  • Lee: 14%
  • Charlotte:13.5%
  • Collier: 13.1%
  • Hendry: 11.5%
  • Glades: 7.9%
  • DeSoto: 7.1%

Friday, the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) released new numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Southwest Florida is doing better in other areas of the state for unemployment, which could be attributed to the region’s economy not relying on a massive employer such as Disney. Many local businesses are back open, meaning people are going back to work.

In a media teleconference, a DEO representative broke down the numbers from April to May.

“Seven out of 10 major industries in Florida gained jobs over the month,” said Adrienne Johnston, the bureau chief for workforce statistics and economic research at DEO.

Johnston says these aren’t necessarily new jobs; rather, they are jobs employers have added to the payroll.

Still, statewide, the unemployment rate grew to 14.5%.

“It’s very apparent that leisure and hospitality is an area that is continuing to either see job losses or not getting them back quite as quickly,” Johnston said.

Anne Poole works at the Clewiston Inn. Furloughed in March, she’s back on the job but only works eight hours weekly. She relies on sporadic unemployment payments to supplement her lost income.

“I’m trying to get my credit right, trying to get my life right, so I can get a house, get a car, start a family, you know, the American dream,” Poole said. “But you can’t do that with all this happening right now.”

Like so many Floridians, Poole says she’s only gotten some of what the DEO owes her. She says trying to get the rest has only caused more confusion.

“They pretty much told me I have to lose a week in order to get most of my back-pay weeks because that one week puts me in another period,” Poole said.

As Poole waits to return to full-time, she still counts as part of the nearly 183,000 people back to work.

“Unemployment rate has increased this month, but also jobs are coming back,” Johnson said. “And so you can see both things happening at the same time. And that means that there are likely people who are coming back into the workforce. They are encouraged to find jobs.”

April’s unemployment rate was also revised from from 12.9% to 13.8%.

MORE: Florida unemployment rate heavily affecting SWFL, claimants remain frustrated

The DEO says this is because the Bureau of Labor Statistics “identified that many of the respondents to the household survey who were classified as employed but absent from work, should have been classified as unemployed and on temporary layoff. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the overall national unemployment rate would’ve been approximately 3% higher if this misclassification had not occurred.“

The next data release is scheduled for 10 a.m. July 17.

MORE: Florida’s May Employment Figures Released

For ongoing updates and information on unemployment, follow WINK News Investigative Reporter Sara Girard on Twitter and Facebook.

She also updates the WINK News FAQ: Unemployment Resources page as information is received.

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