By Valorie Rice, EBRC Senior Business Information Specialist

Consumer prices rose 0.4 percent in May, according to the June 17 Consumer Price Index release. Energy prices were higher for the month and food prices had the largest monthly increase in three years, but increases were across the board, as the index for all items less food and energy was up 0.3 percent. Inflation over the 12 month period increased 2.1 percent on an unadjusted basis.

There were several employment reports released this week. County employment and wages for the 4th quarter 2013 were released June 19th. These are compiled from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) program. Between December 2012 and December 2013, employment increased in 292 of the 334 largest counties in the U.S. Pima and Maricopa were among those counties seeing growth, with increases of 3 percent and 0.5 percent, respectively. U.S. employment grew 1.8 percent in the same time period. Maricopa is one of the counties with the largest amount of employment in the nation, just behind Los Angeles, New York, Cook (Chicago) and Harris (Houston) counties. Average weekly wages were up 0.2 percent for Pima County between 4th quarter 2012 and 4th quarter 2013, while they went down 1.3 percent for Maricopa.

The Arizona Dept. of Administration released the May employment report on June 19th as well. The Arizona unemployment rate ticked down 0.1 percent to 6.8 percent for May, but the rest of the news was not as good. The state lost 15,000 nonfarm jobs for the month, coming from both the private sector (-800) and government (-14,200). There are typically losses for state and local government education in May, but the numbers for this year are particularly high. The private sector had losses in professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, and construction while the rest logged small increases. The Arizona year-to-year gain in employment for May was 1.2 percent compared to 1.8 percent for the U.S.

May job losses were reflected in Arizona initial unemployment claims, as they steadily moved higher the last few weeks of May and continued into first week of June, when the figure was 6,100. The four-week average was also higher at 5,478 compared to 5,166 the week before. The number of people filing for unemployment benefits nationally was a seasonally adjusted 312,000, 6,000 less than the week before. The four-week average was also lower at 311,750.

On Friday the Bureau of Labor Statistics released May employment stats for all states. Arizona was among the states with the largest over-the-month decrease in employment, with a loss of 8,400 jobs. Only Florida had a larger decrease with 17,900. Texas (56,400), Pennsylvania (24,700) and New York (23,400) led in the number of jobs added for the month of May.

Hands and calculator photo courtesy Shutterstock.

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