The unemployment rate in southwest Florida continues trending downward. Sarasota County led the region at 4.8 percent for October, two-tenths of a percent lower than September. On the other side, Charlotte County maintained the area’s highest unemployment rate at 5.7 percent; however, that is still lower than September’s 5.9 percent and well below last October’s 6.6 percent rate. That month-over-month and year-over-year trend holds true for Florida as a whole, which ended October with a 5.1 percent unemployment rate, down from 5.2 percent in September and down from 5.7 percent this time last year. The national jobless rate for October was an even five percent, prompting more than 1-in-3 small- and mid-sized businesses in the state to say they plan to give raises to their employees in order to keep them onboard.