The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Announces Southwest Florida September 2022 Employment Data

Oct 21, 2022

Governor DeSantis Announces Southwest Florida Area Private Sector Employment Up More Than 16,000 Over the Year in September 2022

Naples, Fla. — Today, Governor Ron DeSantis announced Southwest Florida’s area labor force increased by 21,023 over the year. Before Hurricane Ian made landfall in the region on September 28, 2022, economic data reported for September 2022 illustrated a healthy economy. The Fort Myers area private sector employment grew by 9,200 jobs over the year, an increase of 3.8 percent.  The Fort Myers area labor force in September 2022 grew 12,276 over the year, a 3.4 percent increase, and the Naples area labor force increased by 8,747 over the year, a 4.9 percent increase.  


“Under Governor DeSantis leadership, DEO is committed to equipping Southwest Florida residents and business owners with the resources they need to fully recover,” said Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) Secretary Dane Eagle. “In the weeks, months, and years to come, DEO is committed to helping Floridians, businesses, and communities recover in the wake of Hurricane Ian to build back stronger than before.”


The industry gaining the most jobs over the year was education and health services, increasing by 3,700 jobs with the fastest growth rate compared to all metro areas at 11.6 percent. The unemployment rate in the Fort Myers area was 2.6 percent in September 2022, down from 3.7 percent reported in September 2021. The Naples area private sector employment increased by 7,200 jobs over the year, an increase of 5.1 percent. The industry gaining the most jobs over the year was leisure and hospitality, increasing by 2,000 jobs. The unemployment rate in the Naples area was 2.6 percent in September 2022, down from 3.4 percent reported in September 2021. 


Governor Ron DeSantis announced Florida’s unemployment rate dropped to 2.5 percent, down 0.2 percentage point over the month and a full percentage point lower than the national rate in September 2022. Since December 2020, Florida’s unemployment rate has been lower than the national rate for 22 consecutive months. Florida’s statewide unemployment rate has either declined or remained unchanged for 26 consecutive months.

Florida’s labor force continues to see growth, increasing by 8,000 jobs, a 0.1 percent increase over the month in September 2022, while the national labor force declined by less than 0.1 percent over the month. Florida’s private sector employment increased by 47,500 from the previous month in September 2022, an increase of 0.6 percent, which is faster than the national growth rate of 0.2 percent.

Over the year, total private sector employment grew by 461,500 jobs (5.8 percent), 1.4 percentage points faster than the national rate of 4.4 percent. Florida employers have added jobs for 29 consecutive months in September 2022, and Florida’s over-the-year private sector job growth rate has exceeded the nation for 18 consecutive months since April 2021. In September 2022, Florida’s labor force grew by 316,000 (+3.0 percent) over the year, faster than the national rate of 2.0 percent by 1.0 percentage point over the same time period.

Data in the month of September continues to indicate there are many job opportunities available for Floridians throughout the state, with more than 464,000 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.


Recovery Capital for Businesses

Following Hurricane Ian, Governor DeSantis activated the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program, administered by DEO and its fiscal administrator, Florida First Capital Finance Corporation, for businesses impacted by Hurricane Ian. Loans approved through the Emergency Bridge Loan Program are intended to “bridge the gap” between the time a disaster impacts a business and when a business has secured longer term recovery funding such as federally or commercially available loans, insurance claims, or other resources.

The Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program provides short-term, zero-interest loans to small businesses that experienced economic injury or physical damage due to Hurricane Ian. In total, $50 million available through the program for businesses in Brevard, Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Flagler, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, Hillsborough, Lake, Lee, Manatee, Monroe, Orange, Osceola, Pinellas, Polk, Putnam, Sarasota, Seminole, St. Johns, and Volusia counties that have been impacted by Hurricane Ian. At least $10 million must go to small businesses that are agricultural producers impacted by Hurricane Ian.

Governor DeSantis has waived the eligibility requirement for the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program, allowing sole proprietors in the Marine Fisheries Industry with businesses located in Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Hardee, Lee, and Sarasota counties to apply for critical assistance. Applicants with businesses in Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Hardee, Lee, and Sarasota counties are required to provide documentation demonstrating the business is part of the Marine Fisheries Industry to be eligible for assistance. The deadline for small business owners to apply is December 2, 2022. Interested applicants can visit to apply and to learn more about the program. Business owners who need further program information may call 833-832-4494 Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Eastern Time.

Businesses that sustained either physical or economic damage are also encouraged to self-report damages through the Florida Business Damage Assessment Survey at to inform the needs of the business community. This survey allows the state to expedite Hurricane Ian recovery efforts by gathering data and assessing the needs of affected businesses. Results from the Business Damage Assessment Survey will be shared with various federal, state, and local agencies to implement appropriate relief. To date, the state has received more than 2,000 survey responses from businesses across Florida.


Business Recovery Centers and Disaster Recovery Centers


Florida activated Business Recovery Centers in partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration and the Small Business Development Center Network to connect businesses impacted by Hurricane Ian with critical resources. For a list of Business Recovery Centers and their hours, click here


The state of Florida is fully engaged at five Disaster Recovery centers to help individuals and businesses in areas impacted by Hurricane Ian. Disaster Recovery Centers are a coordinated effort between FEMA, the Florida Division of Emergency Management, and state agencies and partners to provide wrap-around resources and information about recovery programs and disaster assistance to survivors.


The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, the CareerSource Florida Network, the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, the Department of Veterans Affairs, Florida Legal Services, the Florida Department of Children and Families, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, and the Area Agency on Aging for Southwest Florida are available to provide information and resources. The following DRC locations are open daily:


Lee County Site #1

Lakes Regional Library

15290 Bass Road

Fort Myers, FL 33919

Hours: Daily 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.


Lee County Site #2

Fort Myers DMS Building

2295 Victoria Ave.

Ft. Myers, FL 33901

Hours: Daily 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.


Sarasota County

Shannon Staub Library

4675 Career Lane

North Port, FL 34289

Hours: Daily 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.


Collier County

Veterans Community Park

1895 Veterans Park Drive

Naples, FL 34109

Hours: Daily 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.


Charlotte County

Tringali Recreation Center

3460 North Access Road

Englewood, FL 34224


Additional Resources for Impacted Employers and Employees

DEO’s Short-Time Compensation Program is a voluntary employer program designed to help employers maintain their staff by reducing the weekly working hours during temporary slowdowns instead of temporarily laying off employees. Once an employer has established a Short-Time Compensation Plan, eligible employees may apply for reemployment assistance and will receive a partial reemployment check to supplement their reduced paychecks. Learn more and apply for the Short-Time Compensation Program here.

Through Florida’s State Rapid Response Program, Rapid Response Coordinators, provided by the state’s local workforce development boards, connect businesses and employees affected by a permanent closure, mass layoff, mass dislocation, or Trade Adjustment Assistance petition with services to prevent and minimize impacts on workers, businesses, and communities. Learn more about the State Rapid Response Program here.

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

Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) – Disaster Unemployment Assistance is available for Floridians who live or work in disaster declared counties and became unemployed as a result of the storm. Floridians who believe they may be eligible can file a claim today at or call the DUA hotline at 800-385-3920. Floridians have until December 30 to apply for DUA.


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.


Community Action Network Resources – Through a close partnership with DEO, the Community Action Agency network helps administer the state’s Community Services Block Grant and Low-Income Home Energy Assistance programs.


Through the Community Services Block Grant Program, Community Action Agencies may provide emergency health, food, housing, day care, transportation assistance; housing counseling; financial management assistance; nutrition programs including federal surplus food distribution, food banks, job counseling, placement and training services and homeless prevention programs.


DEO has released emergency set-aside funding through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program to help families re-establish electric service, provide utility deposits at new places of residence for those permanently displaced, and repair or replace air-conditioning equipment for households with health-related conditions exacerbated by flooding, wind, and other storm damage.


Visit to apply for assistance through the Community Action Agency that serves the county where you live.

To view the statewide September 2022 employment data, visit Visit Florida Insight for more information on labor market and economic data.     


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