Jobless rates are falling in Lee and Collier counties

— There's some good news in the local economy.

Jobless rates are dropping in Lee and Collier counties as the busy season approaches.

In October, unemployment fell to 12.4 percent, down from 13.1 percent a month earlier, according to the Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation. A year ago it stood at 8 percent.

In Lee, the jobless rate declined to 13.7 percent last month, down slightly from 13.9 percent in September and up from 9.5 percent a year ago.

In Collier, there were 18,009 workers without jobs last month. In Lee, there were 37,153.

The size of the labor force has shrunk in Lee to 271,900, signaling that some workers may have moved out of the area or given up their job search.

In Collier, the labor force grew by 490 workers in October to 144,777.

Statewide, the unemployment rate was 11.2 percent last month, virtually unchanged from September. There were 1,027,000 jobless residents last month, out of a labor force of 9,175,00.

Last month's state unemployment rate was the highest since June 1975, when it was also at 11.2 perent. The national unemployment rate is 10.2 percent.

"This rate indicates that Florida's families and business are still facing challenges, while fewer job losses reveal slight improvement in the economic climate," said Cynthia Lorenzo, the Agency for Workforce Innovation's director, in a statement. "We remain committed to serving the needs of unemployed workers and employers through Florida's dynamic network of job placement and training services."

Florida lost 339,600, or 4.4 percent, of its non-agricultural jobs over the year. That's steeper than the national decline of 4 percent.

Florida has seen annual year-over-year declines in jobs since August 2007.

The industries losing the most jobs are trade, transportation and utilities; professional and business services, and construction. The three industries accounting for more than two-thirds of the job losses in the state.

For most of this year, healthcare has been Florida's only growth sector.

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