Florida’s unemployment fell to its lowest level since the recession, with Broward County’s rate at 4.8 percent and Palm Beach County’s 5.2 percent, the state said Friday.
Broward’s rate in October was 5 percent and Palm Beach County’s 5.6 percent. Florida’s rate was 6 percent in October, falling to 5.8 percent in November.
Economists said the November report was a strong finish to the year, with the state adding 38,600 jobs during the month. Over the year, 226,900 jobs were added in Florida.
Florida has turned into a “really good labor market,” said J. Antonio Villamil, economist for Washington Economics in South Florida. And South Florida is outpacing the rest of the state and nation in that job growth. “We’re finishing the year on a strong note,” he said.
Mark Vitner, economist for Wells Fargo, said South Florida “is a global economic hot-spot, right up there with San Francisco Bay area and Dallas.”
Lower gas prices are helping to put more money in consumers’ pockets, which helps tourists and residents spend more. At the same time, the nation’s recovery in housing is boosting Florida since more people can sell their homes and move to the state, economists said.
Business relocation also is playing a part.
Vitner said more businesses are opening operations in South Florida, which is boosting jobs. Even manufacturing — not historically a strong sector for Florida — has started to add jobs, Vitner said.
TD Bank economist Michael Dolega said Broward County in November “pretty much outperformed the entire state.” The county’s recovering housing market as well as international tourism and investment are contributing to its significant job growth, he said. “South Florida and Orlando are the two magnets for international interest,” he said.
The Fort Lauderdale metro area has added 24,000 jobs since November 2014, the most of any metro area in the state.
Jobs were added primarily in trade, transportation and utilities, which includes retail jobs. But there were also significant numbers added in professional and business services, followed by leisure and hospitality; construction; financial activities; and education and health services.
The West Palm Beach-Boca Raton metro area has added 12,900 jobs since November 2013. They were primarily in education and health services; professional and business services; and trade, transportation and utilities.
Palm Beach County lost jobs in government, manufacturing and other services.
Vitner said that while Palm Beach County’s job growth has not been as strong as Broward’s and Miami-Dade’s this year, the county has added high-skilled jobs in the tech sector and in money management. Health care also continues to be strong. “Government [employment] has been a bit of a drag on Palm Beach County,” he said.
Gov. Rick Scott also announced Friday that Florida businesses have added 715,700 private-sector jobs since December 2010.