By Ryan Randazzo for The Arizona Republic
Arizona’s economy might have a sluggish feel to it these days, but it’s doing better than most of the country, according to a report released Thursday by Arizona State University.
Construction jobs are among those leading the growth in Arizona, Lee McPheters, a business professor at Arizona State University, said. Most of the construction jobs are in specialty trades, such as tile setting and other skill sets tied to remodeling, not in new building projects, he said.
Arizona ranked No. 4 in job growth in the past year, from July 2011 to July 2012. Phoenix tied for the fourth-highest growth among metro areas, according to the ASU analysis of data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“It’s all relative,” said McPheters. “If we grow 2 percent this year that is 45,000 jobs, about half the normal growth for Arizona. While we are going better than most places, it’s not so good historically. … Two percent would normally represent a weak year.”
He noted that the Arizona jobless rate is still higher than 8 percent, commercial vacancies are high and many homeowners still face foreclosure.
“All these negative indicators are still there,” he said.
The states with higher job growth were North Dakota, up 6.9 percent year over year thanks to rampant oil and gas drilling; California, up 2.6 percent; and Oklahoma, up 2.5 percent.
Healthcare and retail also added significant jobs, he said.
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