The Southwest Florida unemployment slide intensified in the third straight month of jobless increases in July.
The increase, however, can be traced to more idled workers rejoining the competition for jobs, according to Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.
Lee, Charlotte and Sarasota counties all rose to 9 percent or more with the third straight month of deteriorating employment rates. Lee County unemployment is up to 9.7 percent from 8.8 percent in May.
The historically high 9 percent unemployment rate looks much better when compared with July 2011 jobless rates, which were all well above 11 percent. In July 2011, Lee County endured a monthly record 11.8 percent unemployment rate - 2.1 percentage points higher than July.
Charlotte County unemployment rose from 9 percent in June to 9.3 percent in July. Charlotte County unemployment was 11.1 percent in July 2011.
"While the unemployment rate can vary from month to month, Florida continues to see positive private sector job growth," said Gov. Rick Scott in a press release. "My goal remains the same, to make Florida the No. 1 business destination in the world by improving the state's economic climate, highlighting our talented and skilled work force and getting Floridians back to work."
Florida economic scorecard
Housing starts: Up 26.2 percent over the year
Median home prices: Up over the month by 2.7 percent and over the year by 8.2 percent.
Exports: Florida-origin exports are 6.4 percent ahead of the same period last year, a gain of $1.9 billion.
Jobless claims: Initial claims for re-employment assistance benefits were down 25 percent from one year ago.
Continued claims: Down 41 percent from an average of 553,000 in December 2010 to 327,000 in July 2012.
Florida's job growth rate has been positive or flat for two years in a row after losing jobs for three straight years. For example, Lee County added 506 jobs from June to July for a labor force estimated at 253,891 and has added 5,678 jobs since July 2011.
Florida has gained more than 130,000 private sector jobs since December 2010. Florida was also one of only eight states in the nation with a July increase in job demand.
The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity reported the state unemployment rate increased from 8.6 in June - the lowest since December 2008 - to 8.8 percent in July. The July state rate is 1.8 percentage points lower than the July 2011 rate of 10.6 percent.
The national rate bumped up to 8.3 percent in July from 8.2 percent in June. It stood at 9.1 percent in July 2011.
Other state work force trends:
Florida unemployment rates have declined year-over-year 20 consecutive months;
Florida's unemployment rate has declined month-over-month for 12 of the past 13 months; and
Florida's job growth month to month has been positive 10 of the last 13 months.