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Southwest Florida sees historic unemployment rate

Posted at 6:36 PM, Dec 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-23 18:36:02-05

LEE COUNTY, Fla. — Governor Ron DeSantis announced Friday Florida’s unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been since 2006. Lee County is leading the way in Southwest Florida at just 2.6 percent.

He said nearly 9,000 jobs were created in the Fort Myers area alone in 2019.

Job seekers sat in on a free resume workshop at CareerSource Monday, hoping to secure one of those available jobs.

Janth Castrejon has worked for CareerSource for 30 years and said she’s seen a steady unemployment decrease in lee county since the 2006 recession. She said regardless of unemployment numbers, her job is to find the best opportunities for everyone who uses CareerSource Services.

“There’s a diverse number of jobs, so whatever they need, to land at least that interview, we are here to help them with that,” she said.

She said she could see that unemployment rate going up -not spiking - but gradually increasing based on the upcoming election year. She said businesses like to play it safe when it comes to hiring, spending and distributing benefits during election years.

“Just because of the unknown of who actually gets elected, and who might change things later on in the economy,” she said.

Along with the historic low numbers for the state, Monday marked a monumental moment for Southwest Florida NAACP President James Muwakkil and his wife Shirley Mathis. After 20 years of owning the first black-owned labor service in Southwest Florida, they opened their own office.

“My wife and I work 23 hour days sometimes, to save money to employ,” he said. “We give people who’ve had trouble with the law second and third chances.”

Muwakkil said it’s his way of giving others the opportunity he never had.

“A lot of employees got rid of me like *snap* like that. Permanently,” he said.

He said even though it’s black owned, the job opportunities are open to people of all racial backgrounds.

Muwakkil added that office is only a start. He hopes to go from providing support to 42 employees to 100 in coming years and even move into their own building.