Miami-Dade sees first hiring drop since 2010

Miami-Dade ended 2012 with its first overall job loss in more than two years as sharp drops in construction, healthcare and government jobs wiped out other gains.

The sectors all share one key funding source — tax dollars — as ongoing squeezes in government budgets force cutbacks in hospitals, infrastructure projects and basic municipal staffing. Miami-Dade lost nearly 5,000 local government jobs in December compared to the year before. Its hospital and construction sectors were both down almost 2,000 jobs each. Miami-Dade last saw its overall payroll number decline in June 2010.

Along with a hiring loss, Miami-Dade reported a sharp increase in people describing themselves as unemployed. Miami-Dade’s unemployment rate went from 8.4 percent in November to 8.8 percent in December, the sharpest increase since the recession was still underway in 2009.

Miami-Dade’s new job numbers were easily the most discouraging data set in Florida’s latest employment report. Florida reported an unemployment rate of 8 percent for December, down from 8.1 percent in November even though hiring is down for the year. And Broward recorded its second month of job gains, up about 5,000 positions.

Construction and government hiring have been rocky for years in South Florida, but the decline in the healthcare could mark a new, disturbing milestone for Miami-Dade’s economy. Before the end of 2012, Miami-Dade hospitals hadn’t reported a net job loss for 56 months. The losses follow significant layoffs at both the University of Miami medical school and the Jackson hospital system.

Miami-Dade’s 8.8 percent unemployment rate is still significantly lower than where it was a year ago, when unemployment sat at 10.2 percent in December 2011. Monthly employment reports also subject to revisions, so the hiring picture could look much better in a month. Still, Miami-Dade’s increase of four-tenths of percentage point in the unemployment rate is the fastest growth since April 2009, two months before the 2007-09 recession officially ended.

Of all the local job markets, only Miami-Dade receives a seasonally adjusted unemployment rate on the same day as the statewide report. The smaller markets’ raw rates aren’t considered as reliable.

Broward’s raw unemployment rate was 6.7 percent in December, down from 7 percent in November.