Unemployment rates in South Florida nudged downward in April, according to the state’s monthly report. But that good news was tempered with caution flags for South Florida.
While unemployment shrank in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, the labor force in both counties also diminished slightly. In Miami-Dade, the number of workers decreased by about 0.6 percent, the fourth consecutive month in which the number of job seekers shrank in tandem with unemployment. Broward’s labor force also decreased slightly from the month before. This suggests that more unemployed people are giving up on finding work.
Also, the impact of problems in South American economies may be taking a toll, particularly in Miami-Dade, said Sean Snaith, a University of Central Florida economist.
“Statewide, the labor force grew by 2.2 percent. There is something else going on in Miami-Dade,” said Snaith, adding that economic downturns in South America, particularly Brazil, could be having a disproportunate impact on South Florida’s tourism-heavy economy.
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In Miami-Dade, unemployment slid to 5.5 percent in April, down by 0.2 percent from 5.7 percent in March and 6.1 percent in April 2015. Employment stood at 1,250,208, down 5,000 jobs compared to March but up 1.9 percent from a year ago, a monthly report released Friday by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.
In Broward County, the unemployment rate in April fell to 4.2 percent from March’s: 4.4 percent. Employment fell slightly, from 959,397 to 955,613 in April but up from 935,827 a year ago. Unlike Miami-Dade’s numbers, Broward’s numbers are not seasonally adjusted.
In the Miami-Fort Lauderdale metropolitan area, construction led industries with job growth. The number of construction jobs was up 9.2 percent over a year ago, and 1.8 percent over March. In Miami-Dade alone, construction jobs grew 17 percent year over year.
Finance and insurance jobs were also added at a fast clip in the metro area, up 6.9 percent from a year ago and 0.8 percent over March.
South Florida’s largest categories by employment – hospitality and retail — grew year over year 2.9 percent and 1.5 percent respectively. Looking at Miami-Dade alone, hospitality was essentially flat over March, a data point that concerned Snaith because it may be showing a slowdown in international tourism.
Federal jobs fell 1.2 percent over a year ago in South Florida.
Statewide, the seasonally adjusted jobless figure dropped from 4.9 percent in March to 4.8 percent in April and down from 5.5 percent a year ago. There were 472,000 jobless Floridians out of a labor force of 9,801,000.
Florida’s seasonally adjusted total nonagricultural employment was 8,283,900 in April 2016, an increase of 31,100 jobs and up 0.4 percent over the month. The state gained 254,500 jobs over the year, an increase of 3.2 percent.
The state numbers were strong with job growth accelerating, Snaith said. “Seeing that large job number was reassuring. Florida continues to outpace the nation in job creation and economic growth.”
Nationally, the unemployment rate was 5 percent and the number of jobs rose 1.9 percent over the year. Florida’s annual job growth rate has exceeded the nation’s rate since May 2012.