by Valorie Hanni Rice
Senior Specialist, Business Information

 Unemployment rates for September were lower compared to a year ago in 339 of 372 metropolitan areas, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics October 29 release, while 26 were higher and seven areas remained the same. Arizona metros were included in those with lower over-the-year unemployment rates. Yuma still had the highest unemployment rate in the country, despite decreasing from 29.8 in September 2013 to 25.9 in September 2014. Other Arizona metro area unemployment rates for the month were: 6.4 for Flagstaff, 7.8 for Lake Havasu City-Kingman, 5.8 for Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale, 6.1 for Prescott, and 6.0 for Tucson.

Real GDP increased at an annual rate of 3.5% in the third quarter, according to the advance estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis on October 30. GDP had increased 4.6% in the second quarter. A second estimate, based on more complete data, will be released November 25. 
Arizona initial unemployment claims the second week of October, went down to 4,299 from 4,781 the week before. The four-week average was slightly lower at 4,483. First-time claims for jobless benefits were a seasonally adjusted 287,000 nationally, a slight increase from the week before. The less volatile four-week average was at its lowest level in 14 years at 281,000.

Consumers were feeling perkier in October, as both the Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index and the Thomas Reuters/University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment survey had sizable gains for the month.  The Consumer Confidence Index, released on October 28, moved up to 94.5 in October from 89.0 in September, with increases in both current conditions and expectations. The overall consumer sentiment of 86.9 was the highest survey reading since July 2007, according to the October 31 release. 

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