published: Sunday, September 08, 2013
Highlands jobless rate better, still above U.S. average
By PHIL ATTINGER
SEBRING -- Highlands County's unemployment numbers have been going down steadily since 2010.
But at 9 percent in July, it's still higher than the Florida average of 7.4 percent or the national average of 7.7 percent, as reported in July, said Donna Doubleday, executive director of the Heartland Workforce Investment Board.
A new report issued by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday morning listed a national average of 7.3 percent unemployment, and stated that the numbers were "unchanged" among major worker groups based on gender and race.
The report also said that the number of long-term unemployed -- jobless for 27 weeks or more -- was also unchanged: 4.3 million nationally, which makes up 37.9 percent of those unemployed.
For Florida's Heartland, however, Doubleday said she will have to wait until Sept. 20 to get specific jobless numbers for August.
Those will only be preliminary numbers, she said. Final numbers will be in by October.
Her most recent numbers from July 2013 show an unemployment rate of 9 percent in Highlands, 9.4 percent in Hardee County and 8.8 percent in DeSoto County.
Highlands has had a downward trend from 13.1 percent in July 2010, Doubleday said. The rate fell to 12.3 percent in July 2011 and 10 percent in July 2012.
However, Highlands always loses jobs in the summer months because winter residents have migrated north, schools are not in session and migrant farm workers are harvesting crops in other states.
Other businesses cut back on hours and activity until those consumers return, she said. That doesn't begin until the end of August and first of September.
"We're a rural area. (With) the types of positions and numbers, it's hard to compare to urban areas," Doubleday said.
She said bringing in more jobs requires the work of several different agencies and groups besides her own, such as the local chambers of commerce, education institutions and other economic development agencies, such as Highlands' Industrial Development Authority/Economic Development Commission.
"We are facilitators," said IDA/EDC Executive Director Stephen Weeks. "We don't create jobs. The private sector creates jobs."
His agency can help new or existing businesses navigate local regulations, permits, zoning changes or perform other government liaison work.
Chambers of commerce or the Small Business Development Center also help in that regard, Doubleday said.
Weeks said the economy is showing "some life" with investors and businesses prepared to spend, as well as corporations bringing jobs back to the United States.
However, he compared economic development -- and the jobs it brings -- to fishing.
"Sometimes you get a nibble, sometimes they steal your bait, and sometimes you land them," Weeks said.
Doubleday said Heartland Workforce supports employment by developing and recruiting talent for the businesses in the area.
"We serve the businesses and job seekers," Doubleday said.
She said she and other partners try to identify where jobs are and what industries are growing so they can get job seekers the training they need.
During the month of July, Doubleday said her office served approximately 5,000 people: 3,909 walk-in clients with the rest seeking help online.
Job seekers will have another opportunity this week, she said, during a Heartland Workforce job fair at 10 a.m. Thursday at the Bert J. Harris Jr. Agricultural Center in Sebring. The first hour -- 10-11 a.m. -- is military veterans only, Doubleday said, but then 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. is open to the public.
Job does not equal Well Paying Job (by: IDon'tKnow - 9/10/2013)
Drill down.. in this county what's the percentage of good paying jobs vs minimum / low wage?
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