Job growth slow and employment down in Miami-Dade

Miami-Dade’s lifeless jobs recovery continued this summer, with government cutbacks and a slowdown in healthcare hiring still weighing down the economy last month.

New figures from the state showed Miami-Dade’s unemployment rate dropped in August, but for discouraging reasons. Federal calculations show fewer residents describing themselves as employed. The jobless rate still ticked down to 7.9 percent thanks to a sharper drop in job seekers. This marks the sixth month of a declining labor force for Miami-Dade, Florida’s largest local economy.

Statewide, the trend was the same: Florida’s unemployment rate inched down to 7 percent, thanks to a shrinking labor force masking a drop in actual employment.

In Broward, the numbers looked strong for August. Payroll slots grew by nearly 23,000 compared to the prior year, the sharpest gain since November 2006. Despite having a larger economy, Miami-Dade posted yearly payroll growth of only 2,900 jobs in August.

Broward’s raw unemployment rate dropped to 5.8 percent in August from 6.2 percent in July, but that’s a raw measure that does not take into effect seasonal changes in the economy. The Florida and Miami-Dade unemployment rates were both seasonally adjusted by federal statisticians; Broward’s adjusted rate was not immediately available Friday morning.

In July, Florida had an unemployment rate of 7.1, and Miami-Dade a rate of 8.3 percent.

The unemployment rate comes from a survey of households and the payroll numbers from a survey of businesses. The business survey essentially measures how many jobs the economy is adding, while the household survey measures if the economy has enough jobs to keep people employed.

For Miami-Dade, three sectors are holding back a hiring recovery that seemed to be gaining momentum in 2012:

•  Government continued to see significant drops in employment compared to a year ago, with Miami-Dade’s public sector down 6,200 jobs in August. All levels of government saw losses, but the largest came in local government, with a loss of 5,200 positions. In Broward, the public sector added 1,500 jobs last month.

• Construction hiring has mostly flattened in Miami-Dade compared to 2012, but it is booming in Broward. Broward’s construction sector was up 4,700 positions last month, but down 800 in Miami-Dade.

• Hospitals, a reliable source of jobs throughout the recession and recovery, continues to be a weak spot in Miami-Dade. Hospitals saw their 10th straight month of losses in August, the worst streak since 2001. Hiring at Broward hospitals was flat in August.