by Valorie H. Rice
Senior Specialist, Business Information
Job growth in Arizona exceeded that of the nation again in April. Arizona employment grew 3.1% over the year in April compared to the U.S. at 1.9%. Professional and business services along with education and health services were the two sectors accounting for the bulk of year over year growth, while mining and government both had job losses. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for Arizona in April was 5.5%, a half a percent lower than the same time last year. The U.S. unemployment rate was 5.0% for the month. Four Arizona metros had better or even over the year job growth as the nation: Prescott with 3.7%, Phoenix with 3.6%, Tucson with 3.1% (same as the state), and Yuma with 1.9%. Only Sierra Vista-Douglas experienced decreased employment at -1.2%, while Lake Havasu City-Kingman (1.1%) and Flagstaff (0.9%) had slow, but positive growth.
Arizona’s 3.1% over the year job growth in April was higher than several of our surrounding states, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics regional and state employment release. Over the year change in employment for the month of April was 1.6% in Texas, 2.6% in New Mexico, 2.7% in Colorado, and 2.7% in California. Only Utah, with 3.4% growth, was higher than Arizona.
Arizona initial unemployment claims were 4,572 the week ending May 7, down 179 from the week before. The four-week average was 5,309, down 608 from the week prior. U.S. initial applications for unemployment benefits fell the week ending May 14 to a seasonally adjusted 278,000 after increasing for the last four consecutive weeks. The four-week average, which evens out weekly swings, increased slightly to 275,750.
Two Arizona cities were among the fastest-growing between 2014 and 2015, according to the Census Bureau annual population estimates for cities and towns. Goodyear and Buckeye were 14th and 15th fastest growing towns in the nation, at 4.3% growth for both. Phoenix retained its rank of 6th largest city in the nation in 2015.
The Consumer Price Index rose o.4% in April on a seasonally adjusted basis, the largest over the month increase in prices since 2013. Price escalations were across the board, with indexes in food, energy, and all items less food and energy all posting increases. The annual inflation rate rose 1.1% in April.
Producer prices rose 0.2% in April, according to the May 13 Bureau of Labor Statistics release. Final demand services increased 0.1% after being negative or flat the last two months. Final demand goods increased 0.2%. Total final demand was unchanged over the last 12-month period.
Bankruptcy filings were down 13.9% for the month of April compared to the same time last year. Year-to-date, bankruptcies were down 9.4% for the state. Only five counties had more filings in April than they did the same month last year – Greenlee, La Paz, Mohave, Navajo, and Yuma. La Paz, Mohave, and Yuma counties all report to the Yuma office, which had a 10.3% increase over the year, while the Phoenix and Tucson offices both reported a drop in bankruptcies.