The unemployment rate ticked up in Miami-Dade County in September — but the news wasn’t all bad.
Miami-Dade’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose to 5.2 percent in September, up from 5.1 percent in August but down from 6 percent in September 2015, according to state figures released Friday.
While the unemployment rate went up, part of the rise was the result of a growing civilian labor force. More people looking for work signals a growing confidence in the economy. Local job-seekers are active despite Zika fears, a slowdown in Latin America, uncertainty over Brexit and an upcoming presidential election.
There’s a firm belief that things are moving in the right direction.
Mekael Teshome, analyst
“There’s a firm belief that things are moving in the right direction,” said Mekael Teshome, an analyst at PNC Bank.
Broward County had a stable month, too. September’s unemployment rate remained unchanged from August at 4.6 percent and fell from 4.9 percent year-over-year.
Florida’s unemployment rate also didn’t budge from August to September, holding steady at 4.7 percent. That’s down from 5.1 percent in September 2015. The U.S. unemployment rate was 5 percent in September.
5.2 percent Miami-Dade’s unemployment rate in September
“Florida’s economy is settling into a longer-term rate of growth,” Teshome said. “The jobless rate has been steady for a few months now. That’s about as low as I would expect it to go. … As we go into 2017, we’re looking at Florida’s economy cruising at a steady rate.”
Jobless rates in Miami-Dade, Florida and the U.S. are adjusted to account for seasonal changes in the labor force. Only Broward’s rate is not adjusted.
Miami-Dade was quick to recover after the recession, thanks to tourism and a booming real estate market fueled by overseas cash.
But as tourists and foreign condo buyers spend less, the rest of the state is catching up, creating more jobs year-over-year than the Miami area in September.
Orlando (up 55,200 new jobs), Fort Lauderdale (up 35,400), Tampa (up 30,800) and Jacksonville (up 30,200) all out-gained Miami-Dade (up 14,900). Miami led that list for much of 2014 and 2015.
“The primary difference between Miami and other parts of Florida is the connection with the global economy,” Teshome said. “The global economy is weak, especially Latin America. That’s really held Miami back compared to other areas.”
The unemployment rate measures people looking for work who can’t find it. It does not count those who’ve given up on finding a job.
Another recent problem: Zika is taking a bite out of local business. The hospitality and retail industries showed slow hiring in September. Restaurants, hotels and shops in affected areas have complained of fewer customers. Earlier this week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention upped their warning to pregnant women visiting Miami-Dade.
Driving growth in Miami-Dade were construction, finance and the category of white-collar workers that includes lawyers, architects and accounts. The construction industry in particular was strong, adding 4,500 jobs year-over-year, as condo projects that started sales when the dollar was weaker start to rise out of the ground.
Overall, the number of jobs in the county grew by 1.3 percent in the last year, compared to Florida’s 3.4 percent clip. Nationally, the number of jobs rose 1.7 percent.
Florida’s year-over-year job growth rate has exceeded the nation’s rate since May 2012.