Miami area worse for job hunters than Detroit

From the department of gloomy statistics: it’s still harder to find a job in Miami than it is in Detroit.

New figures from the Labor Department puts Miami-Dade’s unemployment rate higher than Detroit’s, a measure of South Florida’s anemic hiring rebound.

“That’s surprising,’’ said Barry Johnson, president of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce. “Everyone’s impression is that Detroit’s economic situation is much worse than Miami-Dade’s, which is vibrant in many ways.”

Detroit has become the poster child of America’s economic downturn, in much the way Miami became the poster child for the national housing crash. With the recession over, it looks like depressed auto sales are easier to recover from than a burst housing bubble.

A year ago, Detroit was at 14.5 percent unemployment, two points higher than Miami-Dade’s. Now the math has reversed. Miami-Dade is at 12.9 percent unemployment but Detroit is down to 11.1 percent. The states with the highest unemployment rates in Tuesday’s federal report — California, Florida and Nevada — are also the states with the highest run-up in housing during the boom years.

A closer look at the numbers shows some encouraging signs for Miami-Dade versus the Motor City.

One of the main reasons that Detroit’s unemployment rate went down is because its labor pool dropped, too. That is, the number of people either looking for a job or working declined from a year ago— down 2.8 percent. Hiring only went up 1 percent.

That’s usually not a good sign, suggesting either people are moving out of town or are so discouraged by the hiring climate they’ve given up looking.

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