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Naples #3 in USA Worst job Outlook - Fort Myers #1

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Naples got third place worst unemployment in SWFLA, I mean in Florida, oh wait - in the whole COUNTRY??

Q2 2009 Manpower Employment Outlook Survey Weakest U.S. Survey Areas
Rank Survey Area Net Employment
1 Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL MSA
San Juan, Puerto Rico MSA -16%
2 Port St. Lucie, FL MSA
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL MSA -14%
Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Goleta, CA MSA
Naples-Marco Island, FL MSA
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA MSA
Charleston-North Charleston, SC MSA
Tallahassee, FL MSA
Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton, NC MSA
Greensboro-High Point, NC MSA
5 Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ MSA
Ocala, FL MSA -9%

The outlook for jobs isn’t getting any brighter in Southwest Florida.

A survey by Manpower Inc. describes the outlook as “dim” for both Cape Coral-Fort Myers and Naples-Marco Island for the second quarter.

Cape Coral-Fort Myers ranks No. 1 on a list of the weakest areas in the country for job prospects from April to June. It shares the top spot with San Juan, Puerto Rico, the only metropolitan statistical area, or MSA, outside the U.S. that’s included in the national results of the Manpower Employment Outlook Survey.

In Cape Coral-Fort Myers, 12 percent of the companies interviewed plan to hire more employees, while 28 percent expect to make cuts. That results in an employment outlook of minus 16 percent.

A housing slump and the financial meltdown continue to hurt Cape Coral-Fort Myers, which has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country.

“The market has been hit hard,” said Michael Doyle, Southeast vice president and general manager for Manpower Inc., an employment services company.

Naples-Marco Island isn’t far behind. It ranks third on the list of weakest U.S. job markets for the second quarter, tied with three other areas: Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Goleta, Calif.; Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, Calif., and Charleston-North Charleston, S.C.

In Naples-Marco Island, 8 percent of companies interviewed plan to hire more workers, while 19 percent expect to cut employees in the second quarter. That puts the area at minus 11 percent for its hiring outlook.

“It’s not good news,” said Gary Jackson, an economist and professor at Florida Gulf Coast University in Estero.

But he’s not surprised.

“We are coming off the winter season. You expect a little bit of a slowdown in the economy because of that.”

Unemployment has been on the rise in Lee and Collier counties, even in the height of the busy winter season. The jobless rate in Lee County hit 11.5 percent in January, up from 10.1 percent in December and 6.4 percent a year ago, according to the Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation.

Collier County’s unemployment rate grew to 8.8 percent in January, up from 7.9 percent a month earlier and 5.1 percent a year ago. There were 13,394 residents out of work in Collier in January. In Lee, there were 32,040 without jobs.

The picture for hiring has worsened since December. In the last Manpower survey, when asked about their plans for the first quarter of this year, 23 percent of the companies interviewed planned to add employees and 13 percent expected to cut staff in Naples-Marco Island. In Cape Coral-Fort Myers, 13 percent planned to add employees, and 19 percent expected to reduce workers from January to March.

“I think a lot of this speaks to what’s happening in Florida,” Doyle said.

Other areas in Florida made the list of weakest job markets. Port St. Lucie and Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano

Beach shared the No. 2 spot with a hiring outlook of minus 14 percent. Tallahassee is tied at No. 4 with two other areas in North Carolina, with an outlook of minus 10 percent. Ocala ranks fifth at minus 9 percent.

The strongest areas for employment in the second quarter include Yakima, Wash. (No. 1); Kennewick-Richland-Pasco, Wash. (No. 2); Anchorage, Ala. (No. 3), and Killeen-Temple-Fort Hood, Texas (No. 4). Amarillo and San Antonio in Texas are tied for fifth place.

In the coming quarter, job prospects appear to be best in the nondurable goods manufacturing and leisure and hospitality sectors in Cape Coral-Fort Myers. Employers in construction, durable goods manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade, financial activities, professional and business services, and government plan to reduce staff, according to Manpower.

Many of the expected job losses can be tied to the housing slowdown and financial crisis. Local governments continue to cut jobs, particularly in building services.

A few weeks ago, Collier County government had another round of layoffs, vacating and freezing an additional 20 jobs in the Community Development and Environmental Services Division.

In January, Lee County government cut another 29 positions from its community development department. With permitting for new homes slowing to a crawl, the county doesn’t have the money from permitting fees to support as many jobs. Plus, there isn’t a need for as many permit reviewers or inspectors.

There have been 70 layoffs in the building department alone since last year.

“Since early 2007, we’ve made a serious effort to hold vacancies open if possible and to basically reduce our workforce through attrition,” said Pete Winton, a Lee County spokesman.

The county has also offered an early buyout program to workers. That combined with attrition and layoffs allowed the government to cut 200 positions from this year’s budget, bringing its workforce down to 2,630, Winton said.

In the short-term, no more layoffs are expected in the county, but revenues are tracked monthly to keep on top of any revenue shortfalls, he said.

In Lee County, single-family permits hit a record low of 13 in the unincorporated area in January. In February, there were 25 permits pulled, according to the county’s Web site.

In Collier County, 40 single-family permits were pulled in January. That was down from 75 in the same month a year ago, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

In Naples-Marco Island, job prospects for the second quarter appear to be best in education and health services, the Manpower survey says. Employers in construction, durable goods manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade, professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, government and other services plan to cut staff. Hiring in financial activities is expected to be unchanged.

“A lot of companies have been waiting to see if things are going to turn around. As things have gotten worse a lot of them are forced to take action,” Jackson said.

“Governments are having to take action to balance their budgets,” he said. “Their tax revenues are down substantially.”

His latest economic report shows sales taxes have dropped between 20 and 25 percent, and property taxes are dropping too with housing prices, Jackson noted.

Season has been pretty good, he said. But when season is gone there will be less people and less money around to support local businesses.

“When I look at it, it’s not as bad as it could be,” Jackson said of Manpower’s survey. “It could have been worse.”

Manpower has done the employment outlook survey quarterly for 46 years.

Nationally, it shows that U.S. employers expect to slow their hiring pace in the second quarter. Of the 31,800 employers surveyed, 15 percent expect to increase their workforce, while 14 percent plan to cut staff. More than 65 percent anticipate no changes in their payrolls for April to June, with another 4 percent undecided about their hiring plans.

“We know that companies are having great difficulty forecasting consumer demand right now and that’s a key impediment to hiring,” said Jonas Prising, Manpower’s president for the Americas, in a statement. “It’s like trying to make out the image in a stained glass window with no light behind it — it’s tough — so employers anticipate running lean until there’s more light.”

The complete results of the latest Manpower survey can be found at
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Naples #3 in USA Worst job Outlook - Fort Myers #1 Naples got third place worst unemployment in SWFLA, I mean in Florida, oh wait - in the whole COUNTRY??