LABELLE, FL. -- Although decreases in the unemployment rate were the norm
throughout the state in December, Hendry county again came in with the
highest jobless rate in the state. Hendry county had a rate of 8.7 percent
without jobs for those seeking employment in December. The lowest jobless
rate in the state is ironically in another rural county, Lafayette county
with only 1.5 percent unemployed. Hendry county has traditionally had the
highest umemployment rates in the state.
Local officials have attempted to raise Hendry's employment with varioius
schemes over the years including tax breaks for manufacturing companies.
Local government agencies have believed that only manufacturing jobs are
high paying compared to service jobs, neglecting to see the trend for
offshore manufacturing throughout the nation and the decline in domestic
manufactuing due to high costs here. Economists point out that vast majority
of people employed now in the U.S. are in service businesses including
retail, finance, and insurance which pay as much as manufacturing jobs.
The Hendry tax incentive scheme in Hendry originated at U.S. Sugar which is
the only major manufacturing company in the county. U.S. Sugar processes
sugarcane and citrus products. A few other small companies have been granted
property tax breaks as a result of the Hendry tax ordinance but it remains
to be seen whether their applications for tax abatements were legitimate in
their promised to add jobs for Hendry county. So far, all incentives given
by government officials have not made a dent in bringing Hendry's jobless
rate down from the highest in the state.