Unemployment in Miami-Dade rose slightly in December

A job applicant attends a job fair in Miami Lakes in July.
A job applicant attends a job fair in Miami Lakes in July. AP

For the fourth straight month, unemployment in Miami-Dade County rose, according to a report released Friday by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

The numbers reflect both the drag from a slowdown in Latin America and optimism about Miami’s job market.

In December, Miami-Dade’s jobless rate inched up to a seasonally adjusted rate of 5.5 percent. That’s up from 5.4 percent in November but down from 6.1 percent in December 2015.

While the unemployment rate rose, the report shows more workers are looking for jobs, a good sign for confidence in the economy.

“The job growth is still very strong in Miami overall,” said Mekael Teshome, an analyst at PNC Bank. “But a strong dollar and struggling Latin American economies are playing a role.”

Broward County saw its unemployment rate fall to 4.4 percent in December, down from 4.6 percent in November and unchanged from 4.4 percent in December 2015. The unemployment rate in Florida did not budge from November to December, holding steady at 4.9 percent. It stood at 5.1 percent in December 2015.

“Florida is basically at cruising speed right now in terms of job growth,” Teshome said. “Fundamentally, Florida and South Florida are going into 2017 with a lot of strengths. Consumer industries are fairly strong, housing continues to improve, tourism is fairly strong.”

The national unemployment rate was 4.7 percent in December, just a hair above its lowest point since 2007. All figures except for Broward are adjusted to account for seasonal changes in the workforce.

The Miami-Dade industries that grew the most in December were leisure and hospitality, finance, and the category of white-collar workers that includes lawyers, architects and accountants.

The retail, trade and healthcare industries lagged.

Slow growth in Latin America has hindered Miami’s economy for much of 2016. Other parts of Florida are expanding at a quicker rate.

In December, Miami-Dade created 22,800 non-agricultural jobs, a 2.4 percent growth rate, well off levels set since the economic recovery began. Several of the state’s other other big employment centers performed better: Orlando (50,300 new jobs for 4.2 percent growth), Fort Lauderdale (28,100 jobs for 3.4 percent growth) and Jacksonville (22,100 jobs for 3.3 percent growth). Tampa lagged, with 28,400 jobs for 2.2 percent growth.

Florida jobs have grown at an average rate of 3.3 percent rate in 2016, faster than the national figure of 1.6 percent.

Nicholas Nehamas: 305-376-3745, @NickNehamas