Business

Looking for a job in South Florida? Options are increasing — and maybe wages, too

From left, Dana Wells, with Steel LLC, and James Gravett, with A&D Welding Inc., talk to Roosevelt Bradley during the Construction Vendors and labor opportunity job fair for the new Carrie Meek International Business Park on Oct. 16, 2017.
From left, Dana Wells, with Steel LLC, and James Gravett, with A&D Welding Inc., talk to Roosevelt Bradley during the Construction Vendors and labor opportunity job fair for the new Carrie Meek International Business Park on Oct. 16, 2017. pportal@miamiherald.com

South Florida job hunters found more options last month as Hurricane Irma became a memory. And that could mean wages will soon increase.

Unemployment rates in South Florida held steady and employment in nearly all sectors showed gains, according to a monthly report released Friday by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. The state as a whole also gained back the jobs it lost in September.

“We’re getting back on track at least as the labor market goes,” said Mekael Teshome, PNC Bank’s Florida economist. He said he will be looking at the impact on consumer spending, home values and population growth as Irma recovery efforts continue.

Miami-Dade County’s unemployment rate held steady at 4.5 percent in October after eight straight months of declines but continues to lag Broward and Florida as a whole. But the county’s seasonally adjusted jobless rate represents a significant improvement compared to October 2016, when Miami-Dade’s unemployment sat at 5.5 percent.

Employment appeared to be on the road to recovery. Between September and October, the county gained 19.400 jobs after losing jobs the month before. Over the past 12 months, the county gained 28,000 seasonally adjusted non-agricultural jobs, a 2.4 percent gain.

Broward County’s unemployment rate held steady in October at 3.3 percent, after falling like a rock in September from 3.9 percent in August. October’s rate is down from 4.7 percent a year ago. Broward’s non-agricultural jobs rose month-over-month by 15,500, and the county has seen a gain of 25,200 jobs year over year, a 3.1 percent gain. The county’s numbers are not adjusted to account for seasonal fluctuations in the workforce.

In the South Florida metropolitan area, construction, wholesale trade and education and health services were the fastest growing sectors year over year, and education and health services also added the most jobs, 18,000. After a rough September, leisure and hospitality gains were solid for the month and year over year, according to the report.

“Honestly this was a plain vanilla jobs report, which is good news after the storm,” Teshome said. “The outlook is for continued growth in South Florida’s economy. We will probably see a slower rate of job growth in 2018 than 2017 but that is only because unemployment rates have dropped low.”

What does this mean for job hunters and those already working? Although not part of this report, wages have been increasing in South Florida, too, but median wages still lag many other metro areas because of this region’s dependence on a service economy.

Teshome is hopeful that a tighter labor market will propel wages in the next year. “I believe job hunters will find opportunities and those working will find improvement in their income in 2018.”

[READ MORE: South Florida’s wages are rising fast, but are we really better off?]

Florida as a whole also showed recovery. The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 3.6 percent, down a 0.2 percentage point from September, and down 1.3 percentage points from a year ago. That compares to a 4.1 percent U.S. jobless rate.

From September to October, the state gained 125,300 jobs, about the number it lost last month. It gained 197,500 jobs year over year. The number of jobless Floridians in October was 369,000, according to the state report. The industries gaining the most jobs year over year were professional and business services, trade/transportation and construction.

Monroe County’s jobless rate was 3.2 percent, down from 3.6 percent last month in the wake of Irma’s devastation, and the same as a year ago.

Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter.

  Comments