by Valorie H. Rice
Senior Specialist, Business Information

Arizona was one of the 25 states to have the unemployment rate decrease in December, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. At 5.8%, Arizona unemployment rate was just 0.2% lower than November, but was down noticeably from the rate of 6.6% in December of 2014. The national unemployment rate was 5.0% for the month. Job growth in Arizona was at 2.5% for December.  This was better than the 1.9% job growth for the nation. The Arizona employment report for December indicated that the two largest metro areas in the state also had higher annual job growth than the nation: Phoenix with 2.9% and Tucson with 2.4%. Annual job growth for the other metros in the state: Prescott, 1.6%; Flagstaff, 0.8%; Yuma, -0.4%; Sierra Vista-Doulas, -1.1%; and Lake Havasu City-Kingman, -1.5%. The industries growing the most over the year for December were professional & business services and education & health services, while both government and natural resources and mining lost employment.

Real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) rose at an annual rate of 0.7% in the fourth quarter 2015, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis January 29 advance estimate. GDP had increased 2.0% in third quarter.  The annual growth for real GDP in 2015 was 2.4%, which was the same rate of growth as 2014. 

There were 4,671 initial unemployment claims in Arizona the week ending January 16, down from 5,595 the week prior, which had been the largest number in six months, bringing the four-week moving average up to 3,970. Nationally, filings for unemployment benefits dropped 16,000 to a seasonally adjusted 278,000 for the week ending January 23. The four-week average, which smooths out volatility, decreased to 283,000.  

Phoenix home prices rose 5.9% over the year in November, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices released January 26. This was a bit above the national 1-year change of 5.3%.  Of the 20 cities making up the composite, Portland and San Francisco both had the highest annual increase in home prices for November at 11.1% while Chicago had the lowest at 2.0%.

Hands and calculator photo courtesy Shutterstock.
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