Governor Gets Earful from Workforce Boards

By: Mike Vasilinda
By: Mike Vasilinda

Florida’s unemployment was at 7.3 percent in November and expected to rise slightly when new numbers are released Friday. In anticipation of things getting worse, Governor Charlie Crist wanted to hear from the state’s 24 unemployment offices about what’s going on.

“It’s tough, these times that we’re in right now,” Crist said. “And it’s difficult, but we’ve been through worse before.”

The picture wasn’t pretty.

“The numbers that we’ve seen have increased dramatically,” Bruce Ferguson with Jacksonville Workforce said.

“For the month of December, our system saw 6.3 million in the ring of job seekers,” Kim Moore, Tallahassee Workforce CEO said.

“We don’t have the capacity to handle all the citizens coming in,” Rick Beasly, a Miami Workforce Administrator, said.

Job centers across Florida are jammed and as work becomes available, employers are reporting record numbers of applicants.

“What we’ve heard a lot from businesses, is we have three openings for a ten dollar job and I get over 500 resumes,” Lisa Rice with Brevard County Workforce said.

In Palm Beach, the number of people with advanced degrees out of work is increasing.

“It’s a whole different landscape to see highly educated people on food stamps,” Kathryn Schmidt with Palm Beach Workforce Alliance said.

Because of the crowds, both job seekers and employers are encouraged to use the state’s website,

At 7.3 percent last month, unemployment in Florida has been averaging a half point higher than the national average. On Friday, the U.S. jobless rate for December went to 7.2 percent.

The Workforce administrators also asked the Governor for more flexibility to use training funds to actually train job seekers on the job. And they are applauding an 8.5 million dollar gardening program to provide loans to small companies.

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