by Valorie Hanni Rice
Senior Specialist, Business Information

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released the annual employment situation for veterans for 2014 on March 18. Unemployment for veterans declined to 5.3% in 2014, from 6.6% in 2013. State-level unemployment for veterans in 2014 ranged from 1.4% in North Dakota to 8.5% in Maryland. Arizona was closer to the U.S. total at 5.7%, with 268,000 veterans employed in the state. Look for a more detailed summary of veteran employment data soon.

There were 1,061 bankruptcies filed in Arizona for February, bringing the year-to-date total to 2,040. This was a decrease of 22.3% compared to February last year and a drop of 23.4% from last year’s two month total. The Tucson office (which handles Cochise, Graham, Greenlee, Pima, Pinal, and Santa Cruz counties) declined the most over the last 12 months with a drop of 23.3% for February and a year-to-date drop of 24.8%.

Arizona initial applications for unemployment went up again the last week of February, moving to 3,994 compared to 3,724 the week before. The four-week average was little changed at 3,723, up only 17 from the previous week. U.S. jobless claims were up slightly the second week of March, to a seasonally adjusted 291,000. The four-week moving average was also a bit higher, moving to 304,750.

There were a handful of releases from the Bureau of Labor Statistics this week looking at employment for different geographies, time periods, and demographics.

Arizona was one of 18 states with no change in unemployment rates from December to January, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics March 17 release. Twenty-four states had unemployment rate decreases, while eight has increases. Arizona’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in January was 6.6% compared to 5.7% for the nation.

State data was released on Tuesday, followed by metropolitan area employment data on Friday, March 20. The good news is that Yuma did NOT have the highest unemployment rate of all metros in the nation in January! It was second. Yuma’s unemployment rate was 19.8% for the month, while El Centro, California had a 21.3% rate, before seasonal adjustment. The actual good news is that this was the first time since March 2009 Yuma’s unemployment was less than 20%. The unadjusted unemployment rates for other Arizona metros in January are as follows: Flagstaff, 7.5%; Lake Havasu City-Kingman, 9.0%; Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, 5.8%; Prescott, 6.3%; Sierra Vista-Douglas, 8.4%; and Tucson, 6.0%. 

County level employment and wage data for the 3rd quarter 2014 was released March 19. The over-the-year average weekly wage increase for Pima County matched the U.S. at 2.9%, while Maricopa County had a 1.8% increase. Of the 339 large counties reported in the release, only Pima and Maricopa counties were available for Arizona. The change in average weekly wages ranged from 11.1% in Olmsted, Minnesota (largest city Rochester) to -3.9% in Collier, Florida (Naples). 

Hands and calculator photo courtesy Shutterstock.

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