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4:55 PM Mon, Oct. 15th

Arizona employment gains surpass losses from recession

PHOENIX - Arizona has finally recovered all the jobs it lost during the recession.

And the prediction is for even faster growth - though not spectacular - for the next two years.

New figures Thursday from the state Department of Administration show total seasonally adjusted employment hit 2,688,600 in February. That finally surpasses the previous high of 2,683,300 hit in October 2007 before the national and state economy tanked.

Arizona’s economy hit bottom at 2,372,600.

Doug Walls, the agency’s research administrator, acknowledged it took far longer for Arizona to recover than the rest of the nation. But he said it’s a simple function of how hard the state was hit.

He said that at the depth of the national recession, the country shed 6.3 percent of its jobs. For Arizona, he said, the loss was 11.7 percent.

But that recovery has not been equal across the state.

The Phoenix metro area, including Maricopa and Pinal counties, is already at 114 percent of its pre-recession peak. And Coconino County is at 108 percent.

But Walls said Yuma County is at less than 88 percent, with 78 percent for Yavapai County, less than 77 percent for Pima County - and a disappointing 31 percent for Mohave County.

Walls said that last figure is because of that area’s links to the Las Vegas economy.

He had no comparable figures for other counties.

Not surprisingly, Walls said the most rapid growth will continue to be in the Phoenix metro area, predicting another nearly 125,000 jobs in the next two years. That’s close to a 3.2 percent growth rate, compared with 2.9 percent for the prior two years.

The big surprise is Pima County which grew at a rate of only about one-half of a percent in the prior two years. Walls said the area should add another 14,393 jobs in the coming two years for a 1.9 percent growth rate.

“This is a turnaround we are seeing,” he said. Walls said there has been an uptick in both construction activity and hiring in the financial sector of the county’s economy “that were not seen in the last two years.”

Walls had no county-by-county breakdowns for the rest of the state. But he said the other 13 counties should add close to 17,000 jobs during the coming two years for a 2.1 percent growth rate, compared to 1.8 percent for the prior two-year period.

Separately, Walls reported that the state’s seasonally adjusted jobless rate dropped a tenth of a point in February to 5.5 percent. The U.S. rate remained uncharged at 4.9 percent.

The private sector added 10,500 jobs last month, bringing year-over-year employment up by 81,600, a 3.7 percent growth rate.

Unemployment rates (not seasonally adjusted unless otherwise stated)

Area 02/2016 01/2016 02/2015

Arizona

SeasAdj. 5.5% 5.6%

Not Adj. 5.2% 5.3%

U.S.

SeasAdj. 4.9% 4.9%

Apache 11.5% 12.1% 14.7%

Cochise 6.4% 6.6% 7.8%

Coconino 6.0% 6.5% 6.9%

Gila 7.5% 7.7% 8.3%

Graham 6.6% 6.7% 7.6%

Greenlee 8.2% 8.3% 7.9%

La Paz 6.6% 6.8% 8.7%

Maricopa 4.5% 4.6% 5.3%

Mohave 7.1% 7.3% 8.7%

Navajo 8.8% 9.2% 10.7%

Pima 4.8% 4.9% 5.6%

Pinal 5.5% 5.6% 6.6%

Santa Cruz 8.7% 9.2% 10.8%

Yavapai 5.0% 5.1% 5.8%

Yuma 15.1% 15.8% 19.4%

Source: Arizona Department of Administration

Sector employment in 1,000s

02/2016 01/2016 02/2015

Manufact. 158.7 -1.4 2.1

NaturalRes 11.5 -0.1 -1.2

Construct. 131.9 2.7 8.1

Trade/util. 510.1 -2.8 12.2

Information 47.6 -0.1 2.2

Financial 203.8 2.1 12.1

Pro/Biz 407.8 0.0 16.8

PrivateEdu. 412.0 3.1 19.6

Hospitality 305.6 5.9 8.4

Other 89.6 1.1 1.3

Government (incl. public education)

421.5 14.8 -2.4

Source: Arizona Department of Administration