Published: Sep 21, 2010 4:42 AM EDT
Updated: Sep 21, 2010 1:42 AM EDT

LEE COUNTY, Fla. - Economists announced Monday the U.S. recession officially ended in June of 2009.  The National Bureau of Economic Research says the economy has been growing since then; but jobless Southwest Floridians find little comfort in the declaration.

"To me, the recession is not over, to me its first beginning," said Hermene Baer of Cape Coral.  She says she's unable to find work, and her home is facing foreclosure.  "I was hit very hard, all my savings are gone, everything I have is gone."

The numbers show she's not alone, with unemployment still hovering at historic highs for Southwest Florida.  Economists say it typically takes months after a recession ends for unemployment to peak.

"Certainly we're concerned about the unemployment rate, certainly we're concerned about the wages that are available for our residents locally," said Jennifer Berg with Fort Myers Regional Partnership, part of the Lee County Department of Economic Development.  

Incentive programs are drawing increased interest from businesses willing to expand or relocate to the Lee County area.

"We've had 12 recent projects that going to bring more than 1,200 jobs to the local community," Berg said.

Open spaces for business are being seen as an opportunity rather than a challenge.

Also, home sales are picking up, though largely led by investors.

Still, the continued lack of work and slow speed of the return to normal remains frustrating for people like Hermene Baer.

"I just need to know what the little person does.  What is it, not only for me, for everybody," Baer said.