By Roland Murphy and Rebekah Morris for AZBEX
Arizona’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped to 5.2% in October, down from 5.7% in September, according to the latest report published by the Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity.
The national rate decreased to 4.6% from 4.8%. In Oct. 2020, the state had a seasonally adjusted rate of 6.8%, and the national was 6.9%.
The state had a net gain of 30,400 non-farm jobs over the month. “Historically (2011- 2020), nonfarm employment has recorded a gain of 29,000 jobs in October,” the report states. Professional & Business Services had the largest gain with 8,400, followed by Leisure & Hospitality at 8,100, and Trade/Transportation/Utilities at 8,000. Construction gained 600, and Natural Resources & Mining added 100.
The private sector gained 28,500 jobs overall for the month. The 2011-2020 average October gain is 26,200.
Government gained 1,900, with most increases coming in State Government Education.
Education & Health Services was the only sector of the 11 sectors tracked that lost jobs, recording a dip of 600.
Statewide construction employment totals 177,400 jobs, which increased by 600 from Sept. 2021 and 2,400 from Oct. 2020.
The Arizona Construction sector features three major segments: Buildings, Heavy, and Specialty Trades. There are currently 36,900 jobs in Buildings, which is up 300 from Sept. 2021 and up by 800 from Oct. 2020. Heavy Construction increased by 300 over the month for a total of 20,900 and gained 400 over the year. Specialty Trades was unchanged over the month for a total of 119,600, and the segment gained 1,200 over the year.
Construction jobs in the Phoenix Metro Area (Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale) gained 200 over the month for a total of 138,700. The Oct. 2020 number was 135,700. Metro Tucson construction jobs gained 100, for a total of 18,600 jobs for the month. The Oct. 2020 number was 18,300.
Yuma, Flagstaff, Prescott, Lake Havasu City-Kingman and Sierra Vista-Douglas combine Construction and Natural Resources jobs in reporting their job sector totals. Yuma gained 100, for a total of 3,700, Flagstaff also gained 100, totaling 2,900. Prescott gained 200 at 7,300. Lake Havasu City-Kingman gained 100 for a total of 4,300, and Sierra Vista-Douglas was unchanged for the month at 3,800.
Granular Look at COVID Impacts on AZ Construction Employment
Looking at Arizona construction employment since the onset of the economic shutdown due to the global pandemic, we have fared and continue to fare remarkably well. Underlying demand for all types of spaces has propelled private sector construction volume up. Federal stimulus funds have buoyed, and, in many cases, expanded public spending on capital projects.
In the first quarter of 2020 (before the ‘whole world’ shut down), Ariz. Construction employment was on a tear – up more than 8,000 jobs in the months of January – February – March. Then the April 2020 layoff hit hard – more than 5,500 industry workers received pink slips. Economic forces pulled the industry right through the pandemic with YoY construction employment staying positive until December 2020. Only in December 2020 through March 2021 did the statewide construction industry see a sustained slump in employment figures.
Since April 2021, the YOY numbers remain positive. In fact, considering the same time period – April through November 2020 vs. 2021 – the average gains in YOY construction employment are much better – 2,414 jobs gained vs. 1,200 jobs gained in the same period a year ago.
Sustained demand for all types of construction bodes well for this positive trend to continue.