Florida jobless rate down, Collier and Lee rates slightly up in May

Employers with the most job openings advertised online in Collier as of June 14:

1. NCH Healthcare System: 210

2. Marriott International Inc.: 89

3. Employers kept confidential: 82

4. Collier County Public Schools: 70

5. Arthrex Inc.: 58

6. Seminole Tribe of Florida: 46

7. McDonald’s Corp.: 45

8. The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co.: 35

9. Winn-Dixie Stores Inc.: 34

10. Health Management Associates Inc.: 32

Employers with the most job openings advertised online in Lee as of June 14:

1. Lee Memorial Health System: 174

2. McDonald’s Corp.: 142

3. Chico’s Distribution Services: 138

4. Employers kept confidential: 71

5. Charter Schools USA Inc.: 49

6. PETCO Animal Supplies Inc.: 47

7. CarMax Inc.: 45

8. ITT Technical Institute: 43

9. The Terminix International Co.: 41

10. HCR ManorCare: 40

Source: Southwest Florida Works and online advertised jobs data

— Florida's unemployment rate continued its decline in May, dropping to 8.6 percent, the lowest jobless rate since December 2008, but Collier and Lee counties both saw slight increases due to the loss of seasonal residents.

Collier County's May jobless rate stood at 7.8 percent, or 11,764 job-seekers, slightly higher than a month earlier, when 7.5 percent were unemployed, according to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, which released its monthly report Friday.

Lee County's unemployment rate was 8.7 percent, or 24,547 unemployed, inching up from 8.6 percent in April.

However, both counties saw jumps in employment compared with a year earlier, when joblessness remained at 9.6 percent in Collier and 10.8 percent in Lee.

"We try to look at the bright side, so if you look at the region, Collier County has the lowest unemployment," Jim Wall, director of business development for the Southwest Florida Workplace Development Board, said of the area that includes Lee, Glades, Hendry and Charlotte counties. "If you look at the coastal counties — Collier, Lee, Sarasota and Charlotte — which is really apples to apples, Collier still has the lowest rate.

"Granted, it's up ... but that's easily attributed to our winter visitors," Wall said of seasonal residents returning home and causing a decline in business and jobs, such as at restaurants, hotels and in retail.

Statewide, Hendry County had the highest unemployment rate, 11.7 percent, tied with Flagler County, state records show.

State officials said Florida's job growth rate has increased for 22 consecutive months, after three years of job losses. Since January 2011, when Gov. Rick Scott of Naples was inaugurated, state officials said unemployment has dropped 2.3 percent as 99,600 private sector jobs were added, including 9,200 last month.

"As more businesses choose Florida as their home, we will continue to see more and more Floridians secure the jobs they are seeking," Scott said in a statement, adding that he'd continue to work to make the state the "No. 1 business destination in the world."

NCH Healthcare System, Marriott International, Collier County Public Schools, Arthrex Inc. and the Seminole Tribe of Florida topped the list for the number of current job openings in Collier as of Friday, according to Southwest Florida Works, which compiles its statistics from various job sites.

The top five employers by job openings in Lee County on Friday were the Lee Memorial Health System, McDonald's, Chico's Distribution Services and Charter Schools USA Inc., Southwest Florida Works reported.

By job type, the greatest number of job openings in Collier now are for health-care practitioners and technical occupations, with 653 job openings, according to Southwest Florida Works. That's followed by sales-related jobs, 533 openings; management, 357; office and administrative support, 262; and food preparation and servers, 253.

Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida is among retail employers that are continuing to seek sales employees.

"As a retailer, we have 25 locations in Southwest Florida, so we're always hiring," said Goodwill spokeswoman Kirsten O'Donnell, adding that they had a job fair Thursday to hire 20 part-time employees for a new, larger Estero store. "People are always moving on to other jobs in retail."

Even though the pool of applicants seeking jobs is large, education is sometimes a bar to getting a job.

Online ads compiled by Southwest Florida Works show the minimum required education level for current job openings is a high school diploma or equivalent, 49.38 percent, but the number of potential candidates in its database numbers is only 33.26 percent. Online ads show 34.36 percent of jobs require a bachelor's degree, while about half the number of job candidates, 17.74 percent, have one.

"We've got to bridge that gap," Wall said.

As job-seekers encounter continual rejections or find nothing that fits, they often give up, Wall said, but that's prompted an increase in college enrollment here.

"When there's a downturn in the economy, people will go back to schools," he said.

__ To find statistics and resources or if you are a job-seeker or employer seeking a job candidate, go here: www.employflorida.com

© 2012 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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