By Roland Murphy for Arizona Builder’s Exchange
Arizona’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate nudged upward in January to 4.8 percent, up from 4.7 percent in December, according to the latest report published by the Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity.
The national rate remained steady at 4.1 percent. Twelve months ago, the state had a seasonally adjusted rate of 5.2 percent, and the national was at 4.8.
It should be noted that every year before the January numbers are published, the Current Employment Statistics program revises prior estimates by incorporating material from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages to achieve a more accurately benchmarked data set. Consequently, deviations from the estimates published in January are to be expected.
The state had a net loss of 46,800 non-farm jobs over the month, 32,900 of them in the private sector. Only one of the 11 sectors tracked, Financial Activities, finished in positive territory, with a gain of 200. Trade, Transportation and Utilities led the losses, shedding 14,200, and followed closely by Government, which dropped 13,900. Statewide, employment across all sectors finished with a net gain of 60,200 jobs.
Speaking at a luncheon event for the NAIOP Commercial Real Estate Development Association in Phoenix on March 9, Arizona Congressman David Schweikert (R-6th District) commented on the overall numbers enthusiastically, pointing to a general uptick in economic growth and available opportunities, noting that even long-time discouraged workers – who are not counted in unemployment calculations – have begun reentering the workforce. He observed it is a highly positive sign, particularly given ongoing labor shortages in several sectors, particularly construction.
He also pointed out that many firms are getting creative in their recruitment and offering in-house skills training or subsidizing educational expenses for employees’ vocational studies.
Construction in Arizona lost 2,200 for the month, but maintained a net gain of 12,100 for the year.
The Construction sector features three major segments: Buildings, Heavy, and Specialty Trades. There are currently 30,600 jobs in Buildings, up 800 from December and up 3,400 from January of 2017. Heavy Construction is down 100 for the month with a total of 17,400, up 1,600 from January, 2017. Specialty Trades dropped by 2,900 to 101,000, but the segment increased 7,100 over the year.
Construction jobs in the Phoenix Metro Area (Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale) decreased 1,700 over the month, for a total of 116,700. The January 2017 number was 106,800.
In Metro Tucson construction job numbers fell 200 to 16,200, which is still an increase of 1,000 from January, 2017.
Yuma, Flagstaff, Prescott, Lake Havasu City-Kingman and Sierra Vista-Douglas combine Construction and Natural Resources jobs in reporting their job sector totals. Yuma fell 100 to 2,400, as did Flagstaff with 2,300. Lake Havasu City-Kingman was unchanged at 2,900. At 1,400 Sierra Vista-Douglas lost 100. Prescott lost 200, for a total of 5,100.