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South Florida hiring slows in May

Job growth slowed in South Florida last month, as a battered construction industry and a beleaguered public sector threatened to undo a two-year recovery in hiring.

Unemployment rates mostly stayed flat in South Florida and statewide, but the pace of hiring didn’t match previous months. Miami-Dade gained almost 16,000 jobs from the prior May, compared to an average of 20,000 new jobs at the start of 2012. Broward actually lost 1,800 jobs from the prior year, a switch from the 5,000 jobs Broward employers were adding every 30 days earlier in the year.

The middling report follows a grim hiring report for the nation as a whole in May, with slow hiring signaling a new phase of worry for a recovery officially in its third year. With government hiring under pressure and consumers nervous about developments at home and abroad, employers appear to be pulling back from a hiring spree that was gaining momentum through the start of 2012.

Six years into a housing depression, construction remains a huge drag on the South Florida economy. Combined, both counties lost 6,500 construction jobs. Government hiring also is on the way down, with 4,800 fewer public-sector jobs than a year ago.

Professional services, wholesale trade, healthcare and hospitality were notable standouts in Miami-Dade for May. In Broward, growth was mostly confined to the old stand-bys of healthcare and hospitality.Broward’s unemployment increased slightly from 7.2 percent to 7.3 percent. However, that is a raw rate, without the seasonal adjustment federal labor analysts provide for the unemployment rate for Miami-Dade and Florida. Those measures showed little change as well: Miami-Dade held steady at 9.6 percent and Florida dropped slightly from 8.7 percent to 8.6 percent.