The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Announces Southwest Florida March 2023 Employment Data

Apr 21, 2023

Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Announces Southwest Florida Unemployment Rate Lower Than One Year Ago in March 2023, Lee County Among Top 10 U.S. Counties with Largest Population Growth in 2022

Naples, Fla. — Today, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity announced that the Southwest Florida area’s unemployment rates have dropped over the year in March 2023 and Lee County is among the Top 10 U.S. counties with the largest population growth in 2022. The Naples area, one of the areas hardest hit by Hurricane Ian, saw a decrease in its unemployment rate to 2.4 percent in March 2023, down 0.2 percentage point from 2.6 percent a year ago. The Fort Myers area saw a decrease in its unemployment rate over the year to 2.8 percent in March 2023, down 0.1 percentage point.

The Fort Myers area private sector employment grew by 12,700 jobs (+5.0 percent) over the year. The Naples area private sector employment increased by 1,800 jobs over the year, an increase of 1.2 percent.

Southwest Florida’s area labor force increased by 18,871 over the year in March 2023. The Fort Myers area labor force grew by 16,833 over the year in March 2023, a 4.5 percent increase, and the Naples area labor force increased by 2,038 over the year, a 1.1 percent increase.  

The Fort Myers area industry gaining the most jobs over the year was education and health services increasing by 3,300 jobs. The Naples area industries gaining the most jobs over the year were construction, increasing by 1,300 jobs, and education and health services, increasing by 1,200 jobs.

In March 2023, Florida’s unemployment rate was 2.6 percent for the third consecutive month, which is 0.9 percentage point lower than the national rate of 3.5 percent. Florida’s labor force climbed by 250,000 (+2.3 percent) over the year and the unemployment rate has remained lower than the nation’s for 29 consecutive months.

Between March 2022 and March 2023, Florida’s total private sector employment grew by 389,000 jobs (+4.7 percent), 1.9 percentage points faster than the national private sector job growth rate of 2.8 percent during the same time period. In March 2023, Florida employers have added jobs for 34 months since May 2020, with the exception of October 2022. Over the year, Florida’s private sector job growth in March 2023 has exceeded the nation’s for 24 consecutive months since April 2021.

In March 2023, total private sector employment increased by 0.1 percent (+12,100 jobs) over the month, equal to the national rate of change. In March 2023, education and health services sector gains the most jobs among all major industries, adding 6,800 jobs (+0.5 percent) from the previous month, followed by trade, transportation, and utilities, adding 6,700 jobs (+0.3 percent), and leisure and hospitality, adding 5,200 jobs (+0.4 percent).

Data from the month of March continues to indicate there are many job opportunities available for Floridians throughout the state, with more than 400,000 jobs posted online. Floridians in search of work and new job opportunities are encouraged to turn to the CareerSource Florida network for help. Floridians can find guidance on how to register with Employ Florida and search listings of available local job openings. Career seekers also can improve their employability by perfecting resume writing and interviewing skills, establishing career goals, and pursuing customized career training. These services are provided at no cost to job seekers.

Various resources available to help Floridians and businesses impacted by Hurricanes Ian and Nicole include:

Local Government Emergency Bridge Loan ProgramThis one-time $50 million appropriation will fund governmental operations within eligible Florida counties and municipalities and bridge the gap between the time of the hurricane and the time additional funding sources or revenues are secured. “Governmental Operations” includes costs associated with continuing, expanding, or modifying local governmental operations to meet disaster-related needs and includes costs such as, but not limited to, staff salaries and payroll. Eligible applicants are encouraged to use this checklist to submit the required documentation and information via email to For more information about the Local Government Emergency Bridge Loan Program, please visit

CareerSource & DEO Disaster Jobs Portal The CareerSource Florida network has mobilized and deployed units and staff from across the state to storm-affected areas to assist Floridians with employment and business services. These mobile units, directed by local workforce development board and DEO teams, have computers, internet service, and skilled staff to help people apply for disaster recovery programs and new employment opportunities. DEO is also working with the Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) Network, who has deployed mobile units also and is working with the U.S. Small Business Administration. To look for employment opportunities to help rebuild Florida’s communities impacted by Hurricane Ian or to post disaster-related jobs where a labor force is needed, visit Florida’s Disaster Recovery Jobs Portal at

Dislocated Worker Grant – Through the Dislocated Worker Grant Program, DEO partners with local workforce development boards in the affected area to pay salaries for temporary disaster relief employment, which includes restoration and repair work, debris removal, and humanitarian assistance.

To view the statewide March 2023 employment data, visit Visit Florida Insight for more information on labor market and economic data.       


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