Home Economy Tucson’s February Job Growth Better Than U.S.

job growth and unemployment in Arizona, Tucson, Phoenix
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by Maile L. Nadelhoffer
Senior Research Economist 


After a long struggle with minimal or even negative job growth, the Tucson economy is picking up some steam. According to the Arizona’s Workforce Employment Report released yesterday,Tucson MSA nonfarm employment in February grew at a rate  of 2.9% over the year on a seasonally unadjusted basis, while the U.S. added jobs at an annual rate of 1.9%, Arizona (statewide) 3.0%, and the Phoenix metropolitan statistical area (MSA) experienced 3.5% job growth. Prescott MSA had 4.0% over the year growth! Flagstaff MSA kept up with the nation at 1.9%, while Yuma MSA continues to struggle with 0.6% growth, although this is a marked improvement. The Sierra Vista MSA job market continued to shrink in February experiencing negative growth of -0.6%.

During the month of February, Arizona gained 25,300 nonfarm jobs statewide and 5,300* of these new jobs were in the Tucson MSA (Pima County). The government sector accounted for the lion’s share of this increase, adding 14,800 jobs statewide, 1,700 of which were in the Tucson MSA. Statewide, the government sector was followed by leisure and hospitality which gained 5,900 jobs,  education and health services 3,100, construction 2,700, and financial activities 2,100. Government sector jobs are a larger part of Tucson’s economy when compared with Phoenix and the rest of the state, largely due to the presence of the University of Arizona, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, and related industries.  As a consequence, Tucson has been hit harder and struggled longer with fiscal drag than the rest of the state.  So, gains in government jobs are particularly good news for Tucson workers.  

Even with this recent uptick, the state is down 2,400 government jobs over the year (Feb ’15-Feb ’16); however, Tucson MSA is actually up by 1,300 jobs in this sector. For the year (Feb ’15-Feb ’16) Tucson gained the most jobs in the education and health services sector (4,000), followed by financial activities (2,100), professional and business services (2,000), government (1,300), manufacturing (1,000), while the construction, mining, and leisure and hospitality sectors remained essentially unchanged.

You can examine over-the-year job gains for Tucson MSA in detail in the table below. Note: this table shows over-the-year change (rather than percent change) in the number of jobs for the industrial super-sector categories.

Check out the latest data at:  https://ebr.eller.arizona.edu/current-indicators/browse-topic/employment

*( ERRATA: this article was corrected on April 5, 2016. Tucson MSA added 5,300 jobs in February, not 8,900 as originally published.  See paragraph 2. We apologize for the error.)

Photo of Human Resources Interview Recruitment Job Concept courtesy Shutterstock.