by Valorie H. Rice
Senior Specialist, Business Information
Arizona’s over-the-year job growth far outpaced the nation in January. The Arizona employment report, released March 10, indicated the state had 3.0% nonfarm job growth between Jan 2015 and Jan 2016, on an unadjusted basis, while the U.S. had 1.9% job growth during the same time period. Employment gains were most evident in the Phoenix MSA, at 3.6%, followed by Prescott at 2.9%, both Tucson and Lake Havasu City-Kingman at 2.2%, Yuma at 1.5%, and Flagstaff at 1.1%. Sierra Vista-Douglas had a decrease of 1.5%. The unemployment rate for Arizona dropped to 5.6% in January compared to 5.9% in December.
Third quarter 2015 employment growth in Arizona’s two largest counties varied greatly, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics County Employment and Wages release. Maricopa County had 3.7% job growth between the third quarter 2014 and third quarter 2015, while growth in Pima County was 0.6%. Average weekly wages over the same time period grew 1.4% in Maricopa and were unchanged in Pima.
There were 3,641 initial unemployment claims in Arizona the week ending February 27, up 309 from the week prior, though the four-week average moved down to 3,705. Nationally, initial applications for unemployment benefits decreased to a seasonally adjusted 259,000 for the week ending March 5, which was the lowest level since October. The four-week moving average, which smooths out volatility, was down slightly at 267,500.
The U.S. added 242,000 nonfarm payroll jobs in February, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics March 4 release. Sectors gaining the most jobs were health care and social assistance, retail trade, as well as food services and drinking places. Mining continued to have job losses. The unemployment rate for the nation remained at 4.9% for the month.
At $45.7 billion, the U.S. trade deficit was $1.0 billion dollars higher in January than it had been in December. Both exports ($176.5 billion) and imports ($222.1 billion) were lower for the month. The January deficit was larger than it had been a year ago by $2.1 billion.
Bankruptcy filings in Arizona were 1,031 in February, 2.8% lower than the same month last year. Bankruptcies were down 8.0% over the year, with Chapter 11 (business reorganization) decreasing the most.
Arizona’s real GDP growth in the third quarter 2015 was in the middle of the pack compared to other states at 2.2%. It was a bit faster than the 1.9% growth for the U.S., however, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis March 2 release.