By Luci Scott for Arizona Builders’ Exchange
The construction industry added 100 jobs in Arizona in January for a gain of 0.1 percent, according to the state Department of Administration’s Arizona Workforce Employment Report. The unemployment rate remained at 6.6% in January, for the fifth consecutive month.
This is atypical for January over the month, which, in 2010 through 2014, construction had a post-recessionary average loss of 3,400 jobs. Building construction gained 300 jobs, a number partially offset by losses in heavy construction, which lost 100 jobs, and specialty trades, which also lost 100 jobs.
A year ago, Arizona’s seasonally adjusted rate was 7.1% and the U.S. rate was 6.6%. Arizona’s unemployment still tops the U.S. rate which was reported at 5.7% in January.
Frank Curtis, director of labor statistics in the state’s Office of Employment and Population Statistics, said he and his staff don’t know the reason for the drastic change in January.
“The estimates in construction tend to be pretty volatile,” he said. “They move around from month to month. A lot of projects tend to start at once or end at once.”
A big change in one month does not indicate a trend, and a few months’ statistics need to be seen to see if the gains continue, he noted. Construction was one of only three major sectors that had gains; eight of the 11 major sectors lost jobs in January.
Over the year in January, Arizona gained 64,000 nonfarm jobs or a growth of 2.5%.
Overall, Arizona shed 43,300 nonfarm jobs in January for a drop of 1.6%. Job losses in January are typical in Arizona as companies reduce staff levels after the holidays. The ten-year average, from 2005 through 2014, in nonfarm employment loss in January was 58K jobs.