Lost government jobs a bigger problem for Miami than lost construction jobs

Think Miami-Dade’s employment rebound is taking too long? Blame the government.

Specifically, blame local government and its extended streak of shrinking payrolls.

This chart offers a new look at a long-running trend in Miami-Dade’s monthly jobs reports, which consistently have the local public sector losing more payroll positions than any private industry.

The chart measures each month’s share of job losses from two of the biggest sources of declining employment during the downturn: construction and local government.

Overall, construction has cost Miami-Dade more jobs than local government has. Since May 2007, Miami-Dadelost 25,000 construction jobs compared to 21,000 jobs in local government. But while construction’s drop was deeper, the hiring downturn for local government has been much longer and more persistent.

Local government last saw its payrolls grow in April 2008. And the deep losses continue.

In May, construction jobs were down just 300 positions from the prior year after months of minor gains. Not so with local government in Miami-Dade, which was down 5,200 jobs. That marked a stunning 61 straight months of hiring declines.

Measured by its share of lost jobs each month, local government passed construction in the spring of 2010 and hasn’t dipped below it since. Of course, payrolls in both sectors suffered from the same cause: a crashed housing market that kept the construction industry idle and also hammered the property-tax streams that fuel budgets in local government.

The latest numbers from May had Miami-Dade down about 5,000 local government jobs from the prior year. The June numbers come out Friday morning. A narrowing loss in government jobs could signal a big turning point for Miami-Dade’s recovery.

The Miami Herald’s Economic Time Machine seeks to give the long view on the latest financial numbers for South Florida. Visit for analysis of the numbers that drive the local economy. Our ETM index tracks more than 40 local indicators to measure where the economy has “landed” post-bust when compared to earlier economic conditions. The latest reading: July 2003.

Read more The Economic Time Machine stories from the Miami Herald

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