Expert says decrease in SWFL unemployment positive, but not out of the woods yet

Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
Credit: WINK News.

We could see a turn in the state of the job market here in Southwest Florida.

Recent data from CareerSource Southwest Florida shows a slight decrease in unemployment numbers during the month of May. Although we’re not in the clear yet, CareerSource says this is a positive step for the region.

At Tobler Construction in Fort Myers, President John Tobler and his staff are busy.

“We’re at Gulf Coast hospital, FSW, two school board jobs, several renovations throughout,” Tobler said.

The coronavirus pandemic hasn’t slowed down Tobler’s industry. All around Southwest Florida, workers are digging, bulldozing and building for Tobler.

“Our business probably doubled,” Tobler said. “In need of more people more, specifically all trade, but project managers, superintendents.”

Jim Wall with CareerSource Southwest Florida says construction jobs greatly increased during the month of May compared to other industries.

“Construction just lends to the ability to be social distancing,” Wall said. “When you have your tradespeople, they can be easily 10, 15 apart. Masks are readily available now, so you can get workers back on the job.”

And, with more people going back to work, unemployment numbers in Southwest Florida have slightly decreased.

Wall says it’s a positive sign, but we’re not at the end of the tunnel yet.

“There’s always a little bit of a danger comparing month to month because we will see slight increases and decreases month over month,” Wall said. “The real indication is year over year.”

But it is a step in the right direction. CareerSource says jobs in the manufacturing industry have also increased due to the demand for personal protective equipment.

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