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A 'very difficult market' for good hires: South Florida reports low unemployment

Hiring signs sit outside of the building for a construction company in Key West, Fla. on Friday, April 12, 2024.
Julia Cooper
Hiring signs sit outside of the building for a construction company in Key West, Fla. on Friday, April 12, 2024.

For months, South Florida has had the lowest unemployment rate among large areas. And Miami-Dade’s jobless rate has been below 2% since last summer. The regional unemployment rate rose slightly to 2.7% in March.

The ultra-low unemployment rate means companies are scrambling to find workers, especially skilled workers.

Russell Nash is one of them.

"It's still a very difficult marketplace for getting good hires," Nash said. "We need some fairly skilled individuals and that's a challenge."

Nash leads William Nash, a company based in Broward County. It provides plumbing and mechanical services to the construction industry, primarily building healthcare facilities. And healthcare and construction industries have seen some of the strongest job growth in the state.

READ MORE: A consequence of a low jobless rate: not enough qualified workers in South Florida

"In the past ... it was the lack of work, not a lack of people more than, you know, an abundance of work and the lack of people, which is what it is now sounds like. That's what it is," he said.

Nash said his best recruitment tool is paying current employees a fee if they help bring in a new worker.

Seven out of 10 businesses in Miami-Dade County say they can't find workers ready to fulfill their open jobs, according to a new survey by FIU's Pérez Metropolitan Center.

"If you are not able to compete with employers elsewhere, whether remote employers or elsewhere in South Florida, by offering a competitive salary, you will not get the talent that you need," said Maria Ilcheva, associate director of the Metropolitan Center and the survey's author.

Florida’s March unemployment rate was 3.2%, up .1% from a month earlier. It has been rising slowly. A year ago, the statewide jobless rate was 2.8%. It remains well below the national unemployment rate of 3.8%.

The construction, healthcare and education industries have experienced the most significant growth over the past year, including specialty construction and home health care aides.

Hospitality businesses, a traditional strength of Florida’s service economy, also have added positions.

Miami-Dade continues to have the lowest unemployment rate of any Florida county at 2.1% in March – holding steady from February’s figure. The second lowest in the state was in Monroe County at 2.1%. Broward’s jobless rate was 3.2% and it was 3.3% in Palm Beach County.

Tom Hudson is WLRN's Senior Economics Editor and Special Correspondent.
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