Jobs grow, wages dip

Wages in South Florida took a dip last summer, despite a spike in hiring.

New federal data show that while employment continues to grow in Broward and Miami-Dade counties, the average weekly wage dropped during the second quarter of 2012. In Broward, the weekly wage dropped .7 percent to $830 and in Miami-Dade it inched down .5 percent to $876, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The shift is tiny, but it bucks an overall trend of rising wages in South Florida since the end of the 2007-09 recession. The statistics also show South Florida underperforming most of the nation as the recovery gains traction. Of the 10 largest counties in the country, only Miami-Dade saw wages decrease between the second quarter of 2011 and the second quarter of 2012.

Two of South Florida’s biggest pools of well-paying jobs — construction and finance — have been the slowest to recover during the rebound, while the low-paying sectors of retail and hospitality helped lead the way in the recovery. That’s put pressure on economic-development agencies to recruit companies employing the kind of skilled workers who can command fatter paychecks.

On Tuesday, the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance touted a planned expansion of Bolton Medical, noting the Sunrise plant pays its workers about $935 a week, about 7 percent higher than the average weekly wage the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported for Broward. The new line of stents is expected to add about 30 slots to Bolton’s payroll of roughly 80 workers, and Florida Gov. Rick Scott came to Sunrise for Tuesday’s announcement.

Bolton plans to launch manufacturing of a new medical device, and Sunrise, Broward and Florida offered about $120,000 in incentives for Bolton to remain in Sunrise, said Ron Drew, spokesman for the Alliance. “There’s a lot of competition for these high-wage jobs,” he said. “They usually can locate anywhere they want.”

Taking the broader pool of the 329 largest counties in the United States, Broward has the 276th worst record in terms of wage gains for the second quarter of 2012, and Miami-Dade the 269th.

Both counties fared far better in terms of adding jobs, with employment up 2 percent in Broward and 2.3 percent in Miami-Dade.