by Valorie Hanni Rice
Senior Specialist, Business Information

Bankruptcy filings in Arizona were down 12.2% in December compared to the year before. Comparing 2014 with 2013, bankruptcies in the state were down 14.2% overall. The average number of monthly filings for the year was 1578.4 compared to 1839.4 in 2013. Most counties in Arizona had fewer bankruptcy filings in 2014, only Graham and Yuma had slightly higher numbers than the year before.

The U.S. trade deficit hit an 11-month low in November, according to the Census Bureau/Bureau of Economic Analysis January 7 release. The deficit was $39.0 billion for the month, down from a revised $42.2 billion in October.

Arizona initial jobless claims were lower the third week of December, moving to down 1,270 to 2,672. The four-week average was also lower at 3,757 compared to 3,840 the week before. Nationally, the number of people filing new unemployment claims also fell to a seasonally adjusted 294,000 for the week ending December 3.  The four-week average was also lower at 290,500.

The U.S. added 252,000 nonfarm payroll jobs in December, according to the employment situation released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday, January 9. Industries adding the most jobs in December were professional and business services, construction, food services and drinking places, health care, and manufacturing. Job growth averaged 246,000 per month in 2014 compared to 194,000 average monthly gains in 2013. The unemployment rate moved down to 5.6% in December from 5.8% in November.  The December unemployment rate is 1.1% lower than it was this time last year.

This Week – End of December, 2014

Real GDP increased at an annual rate of 5.0% in the 3rd quarter of 2014, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis December 23 release.  In the 2nd quarter, real GDP increased 4.6%.

The Census Bureau released 2014 state population estimates on December 23. Along with total state estimates were estimates on the number of people 18 and older in the U.S. (the voting age population).  Since we know the percentage of those 18 and over in each state, we can calculate in inverse to see which states are the youngest.  In 2014, Arizona ranked 11th among states with the largest percentage of population under 18. Arizona’s population under 18 in 2014 was 24.1%. Utah, at 30.7%, had the highest percentage of children, while Vermont, at 19.4%, had the lowest.

The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices for October 2014 were released December 30. The report indicated that home prices continue to decelerate in the nation and the metropolitan areas tracked, as monthly changes were negative for both the U.S. (-0.2%) and for the 20-city composite (-0.1%). Phoenix price changes for the month were positive, barely, at 0.1% between September and October. Year-over-year change in home prices for Phoenix was 2.1%, lower than the 4.6% posted for the nation.  The highest one-year change for metropolitan areas in the 20-city composite was 9.5% for Miami, the first time in several months that there were no 2-digit price increases for a metro area on the list.

Metropolitan area employment data for November was released December 30. Unemployment rates were lower in 341 or 372 metro areas in November, higher in 27 areas and unchanged in four. There were 12 metropolitan areas with unemployment rates higher than 10%, one of which was Yuma, which again posted the highest unemployment rate in the country with 23.1%. The good news for Yuma was that this was a drop of 1.6% from the month previous and 4.2% lower than the same month a year earlier.  The unemployment rate for other Arizona metros in November 2014 were: Flagstaff, 7.0%; Lake Havasu City-Kingman, 8.0%; Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale, 5.9%; Prescott, 6.3%; and Tucson, 6.3%. 

Hands and calculator photo courtesy Shutterstock.

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