COOPER CITY (CBS4) – Cooper City Commissioner John Sims tries to set an example in his community with his hard work and dedication to his constituents.

That pride and work ethic makes it all the more difficult for the 53-year-old to handle being unemployed for the past four months after being laid off from his management job.

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“I’ve got to set the example,” Sims said. “I love my job with the commission but it’s been difficult because now I have to balance that with finding work to support my family.”

Sims is one many South Floridians looking for work. Figures released Friday show the unemployment rate in Broward ticked up slightly over the past month to 9 percent. The unemployment rate in Miami-Dade rose half a percent to 13.7 percent in May.

Statewide, the unemployment dipped slightly over the past month to 10.5 percent. It’s down from 12 percent since January — a point Governor Rick Scott touted in his weekly radio address.

“While we still have a lot more work to do until we create jobs for every Floridian who wants one, we see evidence we are on the right track,” Scott said.

May also marked the 6th straight month of job growth in South Florida. However, as more people return to the employment ranks because they see encouraging signs, that can cause the unemployment rate to rise.

“When people who are discouraged out there decide to come back in (to the job market) because they hear encouraging news, the unemployment rate can actually go up,” said Workforce One CEO Mason Jackson.

Jackson said the hot areas for job growth in South Florida are hospitality, health care and private education.

He also recommends looking for a career change if you’ve been out of work for awhile.

“For those people out there having trouble getting jobs it’s time to, perhaps, let go of the career you had before and start looking at training for another career,” Jackson said.

That’s what John Sims is doing. He’s acquiring certifications in fields like property management and professional human resources, in hopes of expanding his opportunities.

He spends hours each day searching for jobs on line. He also networks, hands out more business cards than he can count and stays busy.

“He’s been doing a lot more around the house,” wife Janet said.

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“My chores are up to date,” Sims said, laughing.

After decades in management in the electronics and telecommunications fields, he is looking to transition into a different field.

Like many older men laid off in the Great Recession, Sims feels his age is a limitation when looking for a job.

“Sometimes I look in the mirror and I see the gray coming on,” he admits.

For Sims, like many older workers struggling to find jobs, he is competing against younger people.

“That’s the catch,” he said. “Do you want somebody experienced or do you want somebody new — where you can put them in that position and teach them your way?”

Sims has a strong support system beginning with Janet, who is working up to three jobs to help the family make ends meet.

“I know he feels bad I’m working a lot but sometimes you just have to pick up and go and do what you have to do,” she said.

Money is an issue, Sims said. He does earn a few hundred dollars a month as a city commissioner but not enough to pay the bills.

“The lack of income has been very stressful,” he said. “It’s a big issue. Are we gonna have enough to pay our mortgage next month or even bills next month?”

Sims admits he’s humbled by the experience but says it’s actually been a blessing that he’s met many new people through networking and learned important new skills.

Most importantly, he’s staying positive.

“Every day that goes by is one day closer to landing that opportunity that I think will be a fantastic opportunity for myself and my wife,” he said.

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If you are looking for a job, you can contact South Florida Workforce in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties or Workforce One in Broward County for assistance.