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Unemployment Declines, Victory May be Short Lived

May 21st, 2010 by flanews

Floridas unemployment rate has fallen .03 percent to an even 12 percent, which is good news except the labor statistic dont take into account self-employed fishermen, put out of work by the oil spill. As Whitney Ray tells us, the fishing sector could take a big hit if the federal fishing ban is extended.

For the first time in four years Floridas unemployment rate is declining, falling from 12.3 to an even 12 percent. But the slight bump may be short lived as the oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico continues to grow; forcing the federal government to expand its fishing ban.

Self-employed fishermen arent counted in the states labor statistics, because theyre not eligible for unemployment benefits. So if oystermen like Ricky Banks are forced out of their lifes work, theyll have to turn to BP for a pay check.

I make between 160 to 200 dollars a day and if they can pay me what Ive been making until I am able to go back in the water then I think thats what they should do, said Banks.

But its not just fishermen, seafood distributors and restaurants may also feel the impact. The Florida Department of Agriculture says the impact of the oil on the fishing industry could reach the billion dollar mark.

We are talking about a half billion dollar industry on the gulf side and probably something comparable on the Atlantic, said Terry McElroy, a spokesman with the Department of Agriculture.

Many out of work fishermen are turning back to the company that put their industry in limbo. BP is hiring fishing captains to deploy boom and assist with clean up efforts.

The labor statistic to be released next month should paint a better picture of how the fishing and tourism industry are impacted by the spill. There are more than 11-thousand commercial fishing licenses in Florida. The Agency for Workforce Innovation is planning a survey to see how license holders are impacted by the spill.

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