The March S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices were released May 26. Phoenix had a year-over-year price change of 3.1% compared to 4.1% for the nation. The 20-city composite had a one-year change of 5.0%, with the highest price increases in San Francisco (10.3%) and Denver (10.0%). Both Cleveland and Washington had only a 1.0% change in prices over the year.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) released first quarter 2015 housing price data on May 26. Arizona home prices rose higher year-over-year than the U.S., but was out paced by a dozen other states. The one-year price appreciation for purchases only in the U.S was 4.96% and Arizona was 6.03%, ranking it 13th of all states.  Colorado replaced Nevada as the state with the highest price appreciation over the year, followed by Florida, Washington, and California. Metropolitan area house price data use an index which includes both purchase and refinance mortgages. Here are the one-year price changes for Arizona metros in the first quarter 2015: Flagstaff, 7.66%; Prescott, 7.44%; Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, 4.82%; Lake Havasu City-Kingman, 4.60%; Yuma, 4.23%; Tucson, 2.44%; and Sierra Vista-Douglas, 1.47%.

Arizona had 4,921 more nonemployer establishments in 2013 than in 2012, according to data from the Census Bureau released May 27. Nonemployer establishments are primarily sole proprietorships, such as your good old Mom & Pop store, taxi drivers or blogger. The largest increase came in the other services sector, which contains a catchall of service businesses such as repair services like auto shops and personal care services like hair or nail salons, drycleaners, and even funeral homes. There were 1,228 establishments added for the state in that sector between 2012 and 2013, with most of those being in Maricopa County.

There were 4,466 initial unemployment claims filed in Arizona the week ending May 9, down 33 from the week before. The four-week average was down even further, at 4,594 compared to 4,952 the week prior. U.S. jobless claims were slightly higher the week ending May 23 at a seasonally adjusted 282,000. The four-week moving average, which reduces volatility, was 271,500.

This week – May 22, 2015

Arizona gained 2,200 nonfarm jobs during April, most of which were in the government sector. Over-to-year job growth for the state was 2.4% in April, which was higher than U.S. growth, at 2.2%. Three metro areas posted greater annual job growth than the state. They were Prescott (4.4%), Flagstaff (3.6%), and Phoenix (2.8%), while Tucson (1.1%), Sierra Vista (0.6%), Lake Havasu City-Kingman (0.0%), and Yuma (-1.9%) lagged the state figure. The unemployment rate in Arizona fell 0.2% to 6.0% for the month.

The Census Bureau released 2014 population estimates for cities and towns. Phoenix remains the 6th largest city in the nation, just behind Philadelphia, despite growing 1.6% between July 1, 2013 and July 1, 2014.  

Consumer prices rose 0.1% in April on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to the May 22 Bureau of Labor Statistics release. The index for all items less food and energy increased 0.3% for the month, while energy declined and food was unchanged. The annual inflation rate declined 0.2% in April before seasonal adjustment, making the fourth month in a row with either negative or zero annual inflation.

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