The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Miami-Dade County dipped slightly to 5.8 percent in September, according to a state report released Friday.
That’s the lowest local jobless rate since 2008, although the numbers are preliminary and won’t be finalized until next month. The county’s unemployment rate stood at 5.9 percent in August and 6.5 percent in September 2014, according to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.
All signs were positive in this month’s numbers: The labor force grew while the number of people looking for work who can’t find it — the official definition of unemployment — was down. (The unemployment rate does not count people who have given up on the job hunt.)
South Florida’s economy has been steadily recovering since 2012, mainly thanks to a resurgence in construction, consumer and tourism spending and continued population growth. And some experts see the underlying trend continuing to hold steady even if job gains in South Florida have cooled off to a degree.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Miami Herald
5.9 percentUnemployment rate in Miami-Dade for September
“This was a good report. It’s in line with previous job reports for most of this year,” said Mekael Teshome, an economist at PNC bank. “Overall, Florida and South Florida have fairly good economic momentum.”
PNC’s twice-yearly survey of small and mid-size business owners suggests that positive trend-line has legs, Teshome said. The most recent survey results, released two weeks ago, suggest business people are “fairly upbeat” and plan to increase hiring and wages, he said.
The unemployment rate in Broward County also fell, dropping to 4.9 percent in September. That’s down from 5.2 percent in August and 5.8 percent in September 2014. Unlike Miami-Dade, Broward’s numbers are not adjusted to account for seasonal changes in the workforces, meaning they’re less reliable as a month-to-month economic indicator.
For the second straight month, Broward also created the third-most jobs in the state, adding 22,800 jobs year-over-year.
The statewide picture improved as well. Florida’s unemployment rate stood at 5.2 percent in September, down from a revised figure of 5.4 percent in August. (The state last month reported August’s rate at 5.3 percent.) Meanwhile, the national unemployment rate held steady at 5.1 percent.
OFFICIAL DEFINITION OF UNEMPLOYMENT RATE: THE PERCENTAGE OF PEOPLE LOOKING FOR JOBS WHO CAN’T FIND THEM
But Sean Snaith, an economist at the University of South Florida, said he’s concerned that a softening national economic picture and troubles abroad in China and elsewhere may portend rougher waters for the state. Though it’s too soon to tell, he noted that some important sectors, including retail, education and health, and special business services showed job losses.
“The month-over-month data showed a little bit of weakness,” Snaith said. “I’d like to see the next couple of months before saying that’s definitively the case. But it’s hard to maintain robust growth when the economic environment both globally and nationally is experiencing a pronounced soft spot.”