by Valorie H. Rice
Senior Specialist, Business Information

Arizona gained 12,200 nonfarm jobs in March while the unemployment rate ticked down to 5.4% on a seasonally adjusted basis.  Arizona job growth was 3.2% over the year, higher than the U.S. at 2.0%. Prescott lead in annual job growth for March at 4.5%, followed by Phoenix at 3.7%, Tucson at 3.1%, Lake Havasu City-Kingman at 2.1%, Flagstaff at 1.4%, Yuma at 0.7%, and Sierra Vista-Douglas had a 1.4% decline. March employment growth over the year was exclusive to the private sector as government shed 0.4% during that time. Top employment-gaining sectors were education and health services along with professional and business services.

The 2014 County Business Patterns were released April 21. When compared with the 2013 figures, the number of establishments (single business location) in Arizona rose 1.3% while the number of paid employees went up 3.1%. The professional and business services sector had the largest gain in establishments (management of companies and enterprises – NAICS 55) and employees (professional, scientific, and technical services -NAICS 54). Mining had the greatest loss in establishments, while educational services had the largest decrease in employees.  

Arizona initial unemployment claims shot up 2,496 to 7,003 the week ending April 9. There is typically a spike in claims around the first week of April. The four-week average, which smooths out volatility, was at 4,787 compared to 3,978 the week prior. Nationally, initial applications for unemployment benefits dropped to a seasonally adjusted 247,000 for the week ending April 16. The four-week average also declined slightly to 260,500.  

The Consumer Price Index was up 0.1% in March on a seasonally adjusted basis.  In a reverse from the previous month, food prices were down 0.2% in March. Energy costs, on the other hand, headed up for the first time since November, increasing 0.9% for the month. The unadjusted annual inflation rate was 0.9% for March.

Producer prices were down 0.1% in March according to the April 13th Bureau of Labor Statistics release. Final demand goods were slightly higher by 0.2%, the first increase in eight months. Final demand services decreased 0.2%, which was the first decline since October. The unadjusted 12-month change in producer prices declined 0.1%.

Hands and calculator photo courtesy Shutterstock.
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