Unemployment rates in Sarasota, Charlotte and DeSoto counties all fell in February – a sign that the area has recovered from the economic turmoil of the coronavirus pandemic that left thousands of people unemployed almost a year ago.

The construction industry in southwest Florida is still hot and new jobs are being added to the area every month.

“People are moving from New York and New Jersey,” said Janeth Castrejon, spokeswoman for CareerSource Southwest Florida. “The houses cannot be built fast enough to meet demand.”

Sarasota County reported an unemployment rate of 3.7% in February – a few percentage points lower than January’s 4.1% unemployment rate.

Charlotte County’s unemployment rate was 4.1% in February, a slight decrease from 4.3% in January. That is based on data released Friday by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. As early as May 2020, the DEO reported the unemployment rate in Charlotte County at 13.5%.

According to Castrejon, most of the jobs lost are in the leisure and hospitality industries.

“It will likely take another year and a half for leisure and hospitality to recover from the virus,” Castrejon said. “There is no instant recovery for this industry.”

The unemployment rate in DeSoto County was 2.8% in February – at 3.5% even lower than in February 2020.

It is currently a job seeker market in southwest Florida. There are more jobs than people looking for work.