Unemployment rates rose in Charlotte, Sarasota and DeSoto counties in March — but that could be a good thing.
Jobless rates are calculated based on the number of people actively seeking employment. The slight uptick in the jobless rate means that more people are searching for jobs, said Janeth Castrejon, communications manager for CareerSource Southwest Florida.
“The previously unengaged individuals who were not looking for work are now looking for work in March,” Castrejon said. “It’s a very positive thing.”
The labor force, which includes working people plus the unemployed who are looking for work, grew by almost 1,000 people in the Punta Gorda metro statistical area from February to March. In the North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton metro area, the labor force grew by more than 4,000 people, according to state data released Friday.
Charlotte County’s unemployment rate was 5% in March, a slight uptick from the adjusted 4.5% jobless rate in February, according to state data. Sarasota County’s jobless rate was 4.5% in March, a slight spurt from February’s adjusted 3.7% unemployment rate. DeSoto County also saw an increase, with a 5.8% unemployment rate in March compared to a 4.1% adjusted rate for February.
The March 2021 unemployment rates for the area are all slightly lower than the March 2020 unemployment rates — the month that businesses across Florida began to shut down and many residents started to experience layoffs.
The statewide shutdown took effect in April 2020, and Charlotte County’s unemployment rate was reported at 15.6% for the month.
The leisure and hospitality industry isn’t expected to recover for another year or two, Castrejon said. The Punta Gorda metro has lost over 1,000 jobs in the industry year-over, according to state data. However, the construction industry has soared in Charlotte County through the pandemic and continues to do so.