Naples, Fort Myers areas add jobs in September

Florida is growing jobs, but unemployment remains high

New jobs sprouted in September statewide.

Last month, Florida created 23,300 jobs.

Year-over-year, Naples-Marco Island added 100 jobs in September, after being one of the biggest job losers in Florida in August, according to the state's Department of Economic Opportunity.

Cape Coral-Fort Myers created many more jobs in September: 3,700 over the same month last year. More jobs are on the horizon, said Jennifer Berg, a spokeswoman for Lee County's Economic Development Office.

"Our level of activity is up. We are working on a number of expansion and location projects," she said.

One of the expansion projects that's already in motion involves Gartner, which plans to double its employees in Fort Myers to about 800. The company, a technology research and consulting firm headquartered in Stamford, Conn., is building a new 120,000-square-foot office in Lee County to support its growth.

"It's a very exciting story because Gartner is a global IT leader and they came here some time ago and created 300 to 400 jobs in our community and have been successfully growing their business here," Berg said.

Since January, the state has gained 92,400 jobs.

"I cannot take full credit for this positive news," Florida Gov. Rick Scott said during a conference call from Brazil on Friday where he's on a trade mission. "Florida is on the right track thanks to the collaborative effort of the Florida Legislature, who last session passed business tax cuts and shared my vision for making Florida the best state in the country to do business."

He credited other state leaders who have been involved in growing jobs and the city and county governments that have provided incentives to help businesses expand and locate in areas across Florida.

"Most importantly we must recognize the businesses who are actually taking risks to create jobs in Florida every day," Scott said.

He recognized there is still work to do, with so many Floridians still out of work.

On his trade mission, Scott is meeting with Brazilian tourism leaders and companies, trying to attract more visitors and business to the state. Brazil is Florida's top trading partner and it is No. 1 in tourism spending in the state.

While jobs grew in Florida in September, the state's jobless rate remained about the same at 10.6 percent, down slightly from 10.7 percent in August.

Jobless rates shrank in both Lee and Collier counties.

Collier's unemployment rate dropped to 11.4 percent in September, down from 11.9 percent in August and 13 percent a year ago.

Lee's jobless rate stood at 11.2 percent in September, down from 11.5 percent in August and 13.2 percent a year ago.

There were 15,958 workers without jobs in Collier in September. In Lee, there were 30,858.

Statewide, there are still more than 977,000 able workers who are unemployed.

Some described the September jobs report in Florida as disappointing, with the unemployment rate still high. In a statement, Steven Law, CEO of American Crossroads, a nonprofit political action group, said it demonstrates that the federal stimulus money hasn't been successful in getting Floridians back to work.

Florida's job growth rate for the past 12 months – at 1.3 percent – outpaced the nation's for the first time since 2007, the Department of Economic Opportunity reported.

"Today's numbers are a strong signal that Florida is doing the right things to rebound from difficult economic times," Doug Darling, the department's executive director, said in a statement.

In September, Monroe County had the state's lowest unemployment rate – at 6.7 percent. Hendry County had the highest – at 17.6 percent.

Fifteen metro areas, out of the 22 in the state, had over-the-year job gains last month. Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater had the largest increase, adding 24,500 jobs.

Connect with Laura Layden at www.naplesnews.com/staff/laura_layden.

© 2011 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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