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Tue, Oct. 22

The New Yavapai Economy: Federal jobs report

On Friday the Bureau of Labor Statistics released their November Jobs Report, an anxiously awaited for accounting of employment and wages that will most likely determine the direction of federal interest rates in the near future.

Overall, nonfarm employment rose by 211,000 in November with an average monthly gain of 237,000 over the past twelve months. Professional, technical and scientific jobs grew by 28,000, mostly in accounting and booking services. Healthcare employment increased by 24,000, and construction saw one of its biggest increases in the last 12 months at 46,000 jobs, mostly in residential specialty trade.

The holiday season typically sparks large movement in the retail sector, job growth trended upwards with 31,000 jobs added, though only 12,000 of those were in general merchandise stores. 9,000 of retail jobs occurred in motor vehicle and parts delivery. Food service and drinking places increased employment by 32,000 jobs last month. Logistics and warehousing also saw growth this last month adding 6,400 jobs.

Mining and the logging sector, however, lost 11,000 jobs in November due to decreases in prices for oil and other commodity-dependent industries.

Although unemployment remains at 5% nationally and job growth remains at a steady pace, wages continue to be the slowest indictor to experience growth in our economy, with nonfarm payroll increasing by only 4-cents, bring the national average hourly earnings to $25.25. Underemployment remains high and many workers are still in part-time positions. Wages have not matched inflation rates over the past 15 years, leaving the average citizen at a disadvantage today's marketplace.

These statistics are reflected locally with growth in construction, retail, food and beverage, and warehousing and logistics over the past quarter. If Yavapai County can harness the momentum for growth in professional, technical, and scientific professions, our local economy will be well on its way to increasing opportunity and economic resiliency for local residents and young families.

Alexandria M. Wright is the director of the Yavapai College Regional Economic Development Center. The center provides analysis and services that facilitate economic development throughout Yavapai County and build wealth in our local communities.

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