Door to jobs opening wider in South Florida

Christmas this year is looking a bit brighter for Bertie Lloyd. After looking for employment for over a year, “I finally got a job as a cook in a hotel,” says Lloyd, who has been out of work since October 2014.

Lloyd is among several Caribbean-Americans in the tri-county region who have finally broken through the once rigid unemployment ceiling in recent months. Recent statistics from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity show the unemployment rate in South Florida fell to 5.1 percent in October, down from 5.3 in September and 5.5 in October 2014. In Broward and Palm Beach Counties the rate fell to 4.9 percent. While the rate in Miami at 5.9 percent was higher than Florida’s rate of 5.1 percent and the national rate of 5.0, it was still less than the 6.3 percent from September. Most of those find jobs found them in either the leisure, health services, retail, government, and construction jobs.

Many, however, can only fine work part-time, or with lower salaries, which are averaging $15 per hour, compared to the average of $19 per hour these jobs attracted in 2007/8. Despite the lower potential income, college grad Tamara Blades, of Lauderhill feels “particularly blessed I didn’t have to wait too long to find a job, as it took some of my colleagues who graduated last year several months before they found a job.” Though getting $5 per hour less than she had targeted,” I have to be realistic. I think it’s more important to get a job, get your foot in the door.”

Job recruiter Mavis Tindale confirmed more Caribbean-Americans are finding jobs.

“Most of my clients in the Miami/Fort Lauderdale area are Caribbean, and my company have been able to place them in jobs.”

Tindale also acknowledged salaries continue to be less than what people are anticipating.

“Salaries are about 3 percent higher generally than a year ago,” said Tindale. “Although people are getting jobs, the South Florida job market still has more job seekers than jobs available. Until this balances out salaries will rise slowly.”

But Lloyd said he had been out of a job for so long “I never even focused on the salary. Getting a job makes me feel like a man again. I can support my family and that’s what really matters to me.”

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