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Broward adds more jobs in June than Miami-Dade

Slow job growth continues to hold back Miami-Dade’s recovery, as Florida’s largest county continues to search for sustained momentum on the hiring front.

Miami-Dade saw a gain of only 6,500 new payroll positions in June compared to a year ago, a fraction of the more than 20,000 new jobs being added last summer. The biggest culprits: a slowdown in new jobs in retail, transportation and temporary hires. Meanwhile, local government remains the top anchor on hiring, thanks to a drop of 4,700 jobs.

“It’s a story we’re seeing nationally,” said Mark Vitner, a Wells Fargo economist who follows Florida. “Government has been a drag on economic activity.”

The numbers released Friday painted a much more encouraging trend line for Broward, which continues to create more jobs than Miami-Dade despite being a smaller economy. Broward’s tally of 15,000 new jobs was the third-best showing among Florida’s metropolitan areas, a gain helped along by a resurgent construction industry and no big declines in the private or public sector.

In general, Friday’s jobs report extended a trend present throughout 2013, with Broward looking unmistakably strong and Miami-Dade still wobbling in the slow-growth zone.

Still, there were bits of encouraging data. The more erratic measure of monthly job growth showed again of about 3,000 payroll positions in Miami-Dade. Chris Lafakis, an economist at Moody’s said the uptick was a good sign.

“Miami is still a laggard in Florida’s recovery,” he wrote in an e-mail, “but after this report, the deficit isn’t quite as wide.”

For sure, employers are adding positions. Job News, which runs hiring fairs throughout South Florida, will have more than 3,000 positions available at its free event Tuesday at the BB&T Center in Sunrise. The fair’s manager, Tiffany Price, said she’s renting more tables than ever before to major retailers, suggesting it’s getting harder for them to find entry-level workers.

“They used to be able put out a sign that said ‘Now Hiring,’ ” she said. “We have companies that didn’t used to have to spend money to fill their positions before.”

The revival of Miami’s high-rise industry has yet to translate into a spike of construction jobs in the Labor Department’s monthly count of local employment, leading some analysts to caution against putting to much weight into the data. “It feels like we’re missing something in these numbers,” Vitner said.

The job-growth figures followed news Thursday afternoon that while unemployment hit a five-year low last month in Miami-Dade, the decline was thanks to a shrinking pool of job seekers.

In June, Miami-Dade’s unemployment rate dropped from 9.3 percent to 8.7 percent, its first time below 9 percent since December 2008. But the number of employed people actually dropped by almost 6,000 in the federal estimates, and that decline was obscured by more than 14,000 people who left the labor pool.

As a smaller county, Broward usually must wait two weeks to receive its seasonally adjusted unemployment rate from Washington’s Labor Department. The raw rate for June released Friday morning showed a slight uptick in unemployment, from 5.8 percent in May to 6.1 percent in June.

The lowest unemployment in Florida continued to be found in the Florida Keys, with Monroe County posting a 4.1 percent jobless rate. Statewide, unemployment remained flat at 7.1 percent.

Friday’s release of local employment numbers followed a bit of a scramble Thursday when the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics mistakenly uploaded state employment data to its website a day early. That prompted Florida to announce the statewide unemployment rate Thursday afternoon, instead of Friday morning as planned. As the largest county in Florida, Miami-Dade had its unemployment rate included in the early release of BLS data.