Fewer people in Miami-Dade losing their jobs, but unemployment still high
By Jacquelyn Weiner
While Miami-Dade unemployment rose nearly 69.4% year-over-year in November, job losses month-to-month are falling, latest figures from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics show.
Unemployment rose from 6.2% in November 2008 to 10.5% in November 2009, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Month-to-month, Miami-Dade unemployment fell from the near-12% level seen since June.
The good news is that Miami-Dade's numbers managed to stay just under 12% — a trend that could be backing off — while other areas of Florida have fared worse, said Jaap Donath, vice president of research and strategic planning for The Beacon Council.
November marks the "first time [since June] we are seeing a decline to 10.5," Mr. Donath said. "It's not great, but at least we're staying away from 12%."
Unemployment in Miami-Dade rose from 9.7% in May to 11.6% in June and stayed in the 11% range until November.
Mr. Donath said the diversity of Miami-Dade's economy has helped it balance out job losses in certain sectors.
Other areas in the state that depend on one sector — particularly construction — are struggling in greater numbers with unemployment.
Statewide, unemployment is at 11.5%.
Among the hardest-hit: the Cape Coral/Fort Myers area had 13.9% unemployment in November and the Bradenton, Venice and Sarasota 12.6%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
"They are now going through the process of trying to diversify their economy," Mr. Donath said. "We did it about 15 years ago."
Construction still took its toll in Miami-Dade, with 6,700 jobs lost in the industry from November 2008 to 2009, according to The Beacon Council.
Also suffering employment-wise was retail, which lost 5,700 jobs year over year, according to The Beacon Council.
However, Mr. Donath said, retail hiring was up from October to November, with 3,400 workers added in preparation for the holiday season.
"The fact that they were adding jobs leading up to the season shows you some of the confidence," he said.
Sectors that have added jobs since November 2008 include administrative and waste services, the state and federal governments and ambulatory health services, according to The Beacon Council.
Ambulatory health added 500 jobs, administrative and waste services created 400 and state government and federal government created 300 local positions combined, according to The Beacon Council.
While unemployment seems to be bottoming out, saying jobs are in recovery mode would be premature, Mr. Donath said, noting that unemployment is a lagging indicator and not the best way to judge upcoming conditions.
Robert Cruz, chief economist for Miami-Dade County, said he's "optimistic" jobs will grow in the year's second quarter.
Looking at private sector, non-farm payroll employment figures, Miami-Dade jobs have been fairly stagnant from May through November, according to Mr. Cruz's December economic indicators report.
What has dropped is government employment, which fell 3.9% from August to November on a seasonally adjusted basis, a loss of 5,900 positions, according to the report.
"Job cuts in the public sector have been suppressing total employment growth since September," Mr. Cruz wrote.
And as for the decline in Miami-Dade unemployment, Mr. Cruz said month-to-month drops are too volatile to indicate that recovery is on its way.
"Although the decline in Miami-Dade's official unemployment rate is good news," he wrote, "we expect rates to fluctuate around 10% in the next few months before a downward trend becomes clear."