By Eric Jay Toll for The Arizona Builder’s Exchange
Construction gained 1,900 jobs in April, topping pre-recession average increases for the third year in a row. Although the percentage job gain over March was only 1.9 percent, the job count for the segment was up from 1,700 in March and 1,700 in April 2011.
Construction typically gains jobs in April, and from 1998 to 2007, the average was 1,400 jobs gained. In the past three years (2010-2012), construction averaged 1,800 jobs during the month. The job gains, however, still donâ€™t come close to replacing the more than 110,000 construction jobs lost during the recession years, 2008 and 2009.
So far in 2012, Arizona has added 46,000 new jobsâ€”7,200 of which are in the construction segment. This is the 17th consecutive month of job gains over the prior year.
Overall, the Arizona unemployment rate dropped to 8.2 percent in April, down from 8.6 percent in March. One major contributor to the decline is a 29,000 employee reduction in the workforce. These are people who have either stopped looking for work or left the state.
The Arizona Daily Star quotes Aruna Murthy, Arizona Department of Administration director economic analysis as saying the state does not question the reason a person leaves the workforce in its survey. She told the Star that without the workforce dip, unemployment still dropped, but only by about two-tenths of a percent.
However, the trend is still a steady downhill march for the unemployment rate.
In other segments, local government and non-education local government lost 200 jobs. Public education added 1,000 positions, the federal government, 500, and the state added 100 jobs. Professional and business services grew the most with 3,600 new jobs, followed by trade, transportation and utilities at 2,800.
Mining and manufacturing were flat. Information and hospitality lost 100 and 1,100 jobs each.