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Weak jobs report for Miami-Dade

Unemployment ticked down in Miami-Dade last month but for the wrong reasons. Slow job growth continued in May, and a declining number of job seekers managed to mask the impact of fewer people working, as a recovery that once seemed to be gaining steam continues to hover at something closer to a stall.

Friday’s report by Florida’s Department of Economic Opportunity offers only a statistical window into the state’s largest economy, but it seemed to lack the kind of compelling hiring turnaround that many had expected for Miami-Dade in 2013.

The numbers look familiar: lost government jobs continue to be the biggest drag on the employment rebound, while the construction industry remains flat on the hiring front. Growing sectors were retail, hospitality and wholesale trade.

Job growth in Miami-Dade hit 6,000 for May, less than half of the more robust pace set at the end of 2012 as increased tourism spending, strong exports and a rebounding housing industry seemed ready to write a new chapter in a recovery that officially began at the end of the recession in the summer of 2009.

So far, the 2013 numbers haven’t been much to cheer about in Miami-Dade. Unemployment hit 9.3 percent in May, a sharp drop from the 9.7 percent record in April. But the numbers behind the decline were discouraging: the labor force dropped by 8,000 people, and the number of people describing themselves as employed also declined by 3,000.

That combination can lead to a drop in the unemployment rate, which essentially measures the people looking for work in relation to the people working.

Statewide, the numbers were more encouraging: unemployment dropped from 7.2 percent to 7.1 percent in Florida, the lowest since September 2008. Both the labor force and the number of employed Floridians are growing, according to the report.

In Broward, job growth looked stronger: up about 14,000 positions compared to the payroll report from a year ago.

The big difference: Broward’s construction industry is adding about 3,000 jobs a month, while its local-government sector is expanding, too, by about 2,000 positions in May.

In Miami-Dade, local government hiring is down 5,300 positions from a year ago, while construction is flat with a decline of 300 jobs.

Broward’s unemployment rate inched up to 5.7 percent from 5.6 percent in April, thanks to an expanding labor pool. While the unemployment rates for Florida and Miami-Dade are adjusted for seasonality with the release of the monthly labor reports, Broward and the other smaller counties must wait weeks for the same statistical treatment by federal labor analysts.