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Wed, July 17

Jobs still growing in state, county
Overall, employment expected to grow next 2 years

The two big areas of growth in the Prescott area over the next few years will be in construction and healthcare, according to a recent report by the Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity.
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The two big areas of growth in the Prescott area over the next few years will be in construction and healthcare, according to a recent report by the Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity.

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Consider administrative support, health care, construction or food service.

Those are the sectors of the economy and the areas of the state that the Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity predicts will add the most jobs through the middle of 2019.

Overall employment is expected to grow by close to 153,000 jobs over the two-year period studied. That translates out to about 2.6 percent a year, faster than the estimated 1.9 percent annual increase in population, though down from 2.7 percent for the prior two years.

In Yavapai County, the growth rate has been 2.9 percent for the past two years, and is expected to be 2.1 percent for the next two years, also down a bit but still above that national average.

That, said Doug Walls, the agency’s research administrator, should lead to further declines in the state’s 4.8 percent unemployment rate, if for no other reason than Arizona still trails the nation.

What that also is likely to do is lead to a tightening of available labor – along with employers forced to offer higher wages to attract and keep workers.

As to what kind of jobs will be open, that presents a different picture.

Walls said the state should add more than 10,200 construction trade workers during the next two years.

Sandy Griffis of the Yavapai County Contractors Association said that locally, there will be more jobs – “a treasure trove”— than there will be workers to fill them.

“The construction industry will experience an 11 percent growth rate through 2026,” she said. “The industry has high employment projections, but there is a lack of workforce. I venture to say that many of our contractors want to add headcount, but are having trouble finding a workforce.”

Retail down, Classified up

Conversely, look for relatively tepid hiring by retailers. While employment is expected to grow by nearly 6,800, that represents just a 1 percent annual growth.

“One of the reasons is the increased presence of e-commerce retail sales as a share of total retail sales,’’ Walls explained, a trend not limited to Arizona.

n fact, he noted, online sales now represent 9.1 percent of all purchases, nearly triple the rate of a decade ago.

“As the retail space continues to find its equilibrium, we’re anticipating a slowdown in the brick-and-mortar establishment employment through the next two years,’’ he said.

At the same time, employment in what are classified as “non-store retailers’’ is expected to grow by 5.9 percent a year.

Walls said there is one crucial exception to this trend toward online sales: building materials and garden equipment dealers, with an expected 3 percent annual growth in employment at places like large home improvement stores

“This is one area that, because of the items that are being sold, has not been as threatened because of online retail,’’ he said.

Medical & Economic Development

Strong growth also is expected in health care jobs, with another 8,529 jobs expected in the area of health diagnosis and treatment statewide in the next two years.

“In the quad-city region, I believe medical is the fastest growing sector as our regional medical providers are working hard to keep their staffing levels in pace with the population growth, said Ben Hooper, Prescott Valley’s Economic Development director.

“We have a larger share of individuals who are 65 and older than the average state,’’ Walls said, people who need more care.

Chino Valley’s Economic Development director, John Coomer, said his town is working to capitalize on the changes.

“In Chino Valley, we are attempting to bring in compatible industries that will bring good-paying jobs to residents living and working in our community,” he said, “and we think that will inspire growth in retail and local sales.”

Walls said the state’s mining industry, which has shed jobs during the past year, should get back into positive territory as the price of copper is back above $3 a pound.

The prediction of where the new jobs will be in the next two years points up one thing that hasn’t really changed from the past two years: the amount of education required.

According to Walls, slightly more than a quarter of the jobs Arizona will crease require no formal education or credentials at all. And another nearly 42 percent can be filled by people with only a high school diploma or equivalent.

By contrast, only 23 percent of the jobs will need a bachelor’s degree or more.

“Locally, there is a heavy emphasis from our regional education institutions on ensuring more people are trained in a variety of fields in the construction sector,” Hooper said.

Walls said, though, that with the exception of the jobs that require no formal education – Arizona will create more of those jobs than the national average – the other categories are pretty much in line with the rest of the country.

He also pointed out that 85 percent of those jobs open to those with a high school diploma or less will require at least some short-term on-the-job training.


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