By Roland Murphy and Rebekah Morris for AZBEX
Arizona’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased to 6.2% in August, from 6.6% in July, according to the latest report published by the Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity.
The national rate decreased to 5.2% from 5.4% in July. In Aug. 2020, the state had a seasonally adjusted rate of 7.0%, and the national was 8.4%.
The state had a net gain of 53,600 non-farm jobs over the month. “Historically (2011-2020), nonfarm employment has recorded a gain of 58,700 jobs in August,” the report states. Government had the largest gain of 33,300, due largely to the beginning of the school year.
Private sector gains were led by Education & Health Services at 11,800 jobs, Professional & Business Services with 5,300, and Leisure & Hospitality at 3,600. Construction gained 800 jobs for the month.
Information lost 1,500 jobs over the month, and Financial Activity was down 800.
Ten of the 11 sectors tracked posted year-over-year gains. Leisure & Hospitality led with 62,100 jobs from Aug. 2020 to Aug. 2021. Trade, Transportation & Utilities was second with 34,900, and Professional and Business Services took third with 30,300. Construction reported a 3,500-job gain over the year.
Government was the one sector reporting YoY job losses from August to August, falling by 7,500. Regarding Government numbers for Aug. 2021, the report noted, “The government sector recorded a gain of 33,300 jobs in August, less than the historical average (2011-2020) gain of 38,200 jobs. Gains in the government sector were largely due to the start of a new school year for public schools. Below-average gains in government employment were largely driven by atypical losses reported within the federal government sector.”
Statewide construction employment totals 176.1K jobs, which increased by 800 from July 2021 and increased by 5,100 from Aug. 2020.
The Arizona Construction sector features three major segments: Buildings, Heavy, and Specialty Trades. There are currently 37,700 jobs in Buildings, which increased by 800 from July 2021 and increased by 2,400 from August 2020. Heavy Construction decreased by 300 over the month for a total of 19,000 and lost 500 over the year. Specialty Trades decreased by 300 over the month for a total of 118,500, and the segment gained 1,600 over the year.
Construction jobs in the Phoenix Metro Area (Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale) gained 1,200 over the month for a total of 138,000. The Aug. 2020 number was 133,800. Metro Tucson construction jobs dipped by 300 to 18,400 jobs for the month. The Aug. 2020 number was 17,800.
Yuma, Flagstaff, Prescott, Lake Havasu City-Kingman and Sierra Vista-Douglas combine Construction and Natural Resources jobs in reporting their job sector totals. Yuma lost 100, for a total of 3,700, Flagstaff remained at 2,800, Prescott gained 200, totaling 7,400, Lake Havasu City-Kingman remained at 4,200, and Sierra Vista-Douglas held steady at 3,700 for the month.
Statewide construction employment is nearing the ‘pre-COVID’ peak of 176.3K jobs, which was attained in February of 2020, before the pandemic began noticeably affecting all industries. As previously reported, construction in AZ was mostly spared, with overall activity in 2020 surpassing 2019 levels by a whopping 19.06%. If construction gains jobs again in the month of September, the industry would likely surpass the pre-COVID peak employment numbers.