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Wed, July 17

Arizona’s unemployment rate steady
Construction industry sees significant gains, at least for now

Unemployment rates (not seasonally adjusted unless otherwise stated)

Area April 2017 March 2017 April 2016

Arizona (seas adj) 5.0% 5.0% 5.4%

Arizona 4.5% 4.6% 5.2%

U.S. (seas adj) 4.4% 4.5% 5.0%

Apache 9.7% 10.5% 10.7%

Cochise 5.2% 5.3% 6.2%

Coconino 4.9% 5.6% 5.5%

Gila 5.8% 6.1% 7.1%

Graham 5.4% 5.8% 6.7%

Greenlee 5.2% 5.7% 8.1%

La Paz 4.8% 4.8% 6.0%

Maricopa 3.9% 4.1% 4.5%

Mohave 5.5% 5.7% 6.6%

Navajo 6.7% 7.4% 7.9%

Pima 4.2% 4.4% 4.8%

Pinal 4.7% 4.9% 5.4%

Santa Cruz 7.2% 7.8% 8.1%

Yavapai 4.2% 4.4% 4.8%

Yuma 16.3% 12.8% 18.3%

Sector employment in 1,000s

Sector April 2017 Change Change

in last month in last year

Total nonfarm 2,764.8 10.1 51.9

Private sector 2,339.1 7.5 50.7

Manufacturing 161.6 0.2 2.2

Natural resources & mining 11.3 (-0.1) (-0.2)

Construction 139.0 2.3 5.7

Trade, transportation, utilities 516.1 0.3 3.5

Information/ 45.3 0.4 (-0.3)

Financial activities 209.9 0.6 9.8

Professional & business services 414.3 (-0.7) 4.1

Private education & health services 422.6 1.8 11.1

Leisure & hospitality 331.8 2.2 17.2

Other services 87.2 0.5 (-2.4)

Government (including public education) 425.7 2.6 1.2

Source: Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity

PHOENIX — The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remained steady last month at 5.0 percent as the number of people employed the private sector grew by only 7,500.

That compares with a typical month-over-month growth of 8,200 for this time of year since the end of the recession. On an annual basis, the number of people working for private companies in April was up by 50,700.

There were significant gains, on a percentage basis, in the construction industry which now is up 5.7 percent over the same time a year earlier. That brings current construction employment up to 139,000.

But Doug Walls, research administrator for the state’s Office of Economic Opportunity, said it would be foolish to assume that the number of jobs in that sector will ever get back to where they were in June 2006 when they peaked at 244,300.

“Just before the recession we did see very, very large increases in a very short period of time which I would say didn’t necessarily represent a sustainable level of growth for construction at that time,’’ he said.

That was when developers were building homes at a breakneck pace, figuring that there would always be more people coming to Arizona and, by extension, the need for more houses. Then the housing bubble burst as people found themselves in homes they could not afford and defaulted, leaving a glut of buildings on the market.

“What we’re seeing in construction, post-recession, is steady and moderate growth,’’ Walls said.

Leisure & hospitality up, manufacturing weak

Another bright spot remains the state’s leisure and hospitality industry which added 2,200 jobs in April, with 1,400 of them in entertainment and recreation.

“We saw gains in water parks and golf resorts around the state,’’ Walls said. “Summer is upon us.’’

Manufacturing employment remains weak, adding only 200 jobs last month and 2,200 in the past year.

Walls noted, though, this is not an Arizona phenomenon. In fact, he noted, Arizona’s manufacturing jobs grew 1.4 percent year over year, versus 0.3 percent nationally.

Not surprisingly, the bulk of the new private sector employment was in the Phoenix metro area, which includes Maricopa and Pinal counties.

By contrast, Pima County added no jobs at all in April, with employment up year-over-year an anemic 1,200.

Walls said a lot of that could be traced, both directly and indirectly, to the lack of new construction in the area, with jobs in that sector up by just 200 in the past year.

Walls said, though, this has a ripple effect on other sectors of the economy which depend on not only the money generated by construction but also on the underlying issue of population growth. New population figures and growth rates for the county will not be available until later this year.


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