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Southwest Florida's unemployment stays at record low making it difficult for employers to hire

Posted at 11:11 PM, Aug 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-17 23:14:05-04

LEE COUNTY, Fla. — North Fort Myers Laundromat gets the laundry done because of the employees. 

“They need to come, they need to be able to count, they need to be able to know customer service,” said David Carter, co-owner of North Fort Myers Laundromat. 

Carter says decent workers are hard to find.

“The quality is just not there.” 

That’s because they’re already working somewhere else. The unemployment rate in Southwest Florida has been at a record low for the last six months; in July, at 3.4 percent. This creates a challenge for employers looking to hire. 

“When it dips below 4%, and we’ve been below that for a while now, that’s when things get out of balance,” said Jim Wall, Director of Communications for CareerSource Southwest Florida. 

Wall says Southwest Florida is currently in a “job-seeking” climate, meaning there are too many jobs and not enough people to fill them.

“If you get a good employee, treat them right. Because they will jump for 25 cents, 50 cents an hour,” Wall said.

It’s expensive to train new employees with the current minimum wage in Florida, but that price could increase if the minimum wage raises to $15 per hour.

“It costs you about $10,000 every time you have a turnover at a 15 dollar an hour, through training costs and loss of productivity,” Wall said.

Carter says he’s willing to pay his employees more as long as they’re loyal.
“We don’t know if they’re going to stick around so why would we waste our time and pay them more if they’re not even going to stay around,” Carter said.