Data on employment growth suggest a slowdown in Miami’s economic recovery. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), non-farm employment as of July (preliminary data) was up 0.6% (5,600 jobs) from 12 months prior. In contrast, the previous July-to-July period saw an increase on the order of 2.9% (27,800 jobs). Recovery, though, does not seem jeopardized. Employment in the centrally important Professional and Business Services sector was up fully 3.6% (4,800 jobs) over the latest 12-month span. Supported by trade flows through Miami-Dade’s major air and sea port facilities, increases are indicated as well for the Trade, Transportation, and Utilities sector; employment therein was up 1.9% and 6.9% (4,900 and 17,000 jobs), respectively, over the past 12 and 24 months. The Construction and Government sectors, meanwhile, continue to suffer year-over-year losses. And the Leisure and Hospitality sector, following a period of expansion, ran flat over the latest 12-month span.
Trade has historically been a major component in the local economy. With the expansion of the Panama Canal and strong ties with Latin America, trade should maintain its central role. Indeed, the Orlando Business Journal, citing Bloomberg News, reported in late August, “Plans for a new highway tunnel and a refurbished rail link, a $2 billion makeover of the Port of Miami, are the centerpiece of an ambitious bid to overhaul Florida’s economy. … Foreign trade, foreign cash and foreign people are already helping fuel Florida’s post-crisis convalescence. Roughly 26% of U.S. commerce with Latin America transits the state.”
“The housing market appears to have pushed past its low point,” observes Studley, Inc., in a second-quarter report on South Florida. The percentage of homes with negative equity has “eased a bit,” according to a September 2012 article in the South Florida Business Journal. The Miami Association of Realtors, as cited by the Business Journal in August, reports that home prices in Miami-Dade maintained their upward trajectory in the second quarter. At $185,000, the median price for a single-family home was up 4% year-over-year. The median condo price was $153,000, up fully 28%. “The rise is attributed to limited housing supply and strong demand.” Indeed, GlobeSt.com reported in August, “Even in the face of rising prices, Downtown Miami’s residential market continues its rebound with sustained velocity for both sales and leasing. … The inventory of new, unsold condominium units still subject to first time market sales in the Downtown Miami area dropped below 2,900 units as of June 30. That’s down over 30% from a year ago, reflecting an average absorption of 155 units per month during the second quarter.” In addition, foreclosure activity has continued to decline.