Unemployment rates dropped across SW Florida last December, compared to November. The rates went down about one percentage point in Lee, Collier and Charlotte counties. But many of the new hires were holiday positions, or jobs in the hospitality industry, which always gears up for visitor season.
"I am very pleased to see these numbers," said Barb Hartman of Southwest Florida Works, the agency that helps people find jobs. "It does represent holiday hiring in retail and some hospitality hires by restaurants and resorts. But that is good, and it all reflects a better economy here."
Ed Taylor disagrees. He's been looking for construction work for months, and can't find any. He says hospitality jobs are notorious for disappearing in April, when the visitors head back north.
"If the season's gone, the job is going to be gone. I don't see that that helps. You are back to sitting at home and waiting," said Taylor.
Denise Moreland, manager at the new Boathouse Bar and Grill in south Ft. Myers, recently hired several people. "Two cooks, 3 hostesses, and a couple of servers," she told WINK. "The people were very happy to get jobs. They want to work. I do hope to keep them after season, perhaps with a combination of part-time and full-time work. But we will have to see. For now, we are expecting a very good season. We are busy," said Moreland.
The jobless rate in December stands at 12.5% in Lee, 11.5% in Collier, and 12% in Charlotte.