Our area got a nice piece of good news lately: the unemployment rate for Southwest Florida as a whole – and Lee County specifically – fell in 2013 and continues a gradual yet noticeable improvement from the dark days of the recession.

According to numbers released by the Department of Economic Opportunity, Southwest Florida’s unemployment rate (including rates from Lee County plus Charlotte, Collier, Glades, and  Hendry Counties) fell by 1.7 percent from 2012 to 2013.

December 2013 saw a 6.2 percent rate, compared to a 7.9 percent rate in December 2012. The rate even improved by 0.2 percent from November 2013 to the next month, all caused by a strong wave of hiring that fueled the growth.

Lee County saw an even bigger decrease, from 7.9 percent in December 2012 to 5.8 percent. Out of Florida’s 67 counties, Lee County’s unemployment rate is lower than 38, and is the second-lowest rate in the Southwest Florida area.

Statewide, unemployment was down to 6.7 percent from 7.9 percent in 2012.

Hiring managers have noted the strength of the area’s applicant pool, and say they have witnessed a lot of strong candidates who have a wide variety of experience in industries essential to Southwest Florida.

Add in big moves, like the Hertz headquarters being constructed in Estero and the company’s expansion into Bonita Springs, plus the addition of a Rural King store in Bonita Springs, and you can see how employment is becoming yet another strength of the area as a whole.

Expect real estate in Bonita Springs to improve as well. AS more economic opportunity comes to the city, demand for homes in Bonita Springs will increase – and so will value. If you’re looking to buy, 2014 is shaping up to be a great year!

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