by Valorie H. Rice
Senior Specialist, Business Information

Arizona real GDP by state rose 2.3% in the 4th quarter 2015 at a seasonally adjusted annual rate. This ranked the state 15th in the nation for the quarter according to the June 14 Bureau of Economic Analysis release. However, there were substantial downward revisions for the previous three quarters and Arizona ended up with only a 0.9% increase in real GDP for 2015, well below the national rate of 2.4% and ranking the state 39th out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Arizona’s Real GDP experienced 1.8% growth in 2014. 

Real GDP Western States, U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis

The Arizona employment report released June 16 indicated that job growth slowed down in May to 2.7% over the year, though it still outpaced the nation at 1.7%. Tucson had the highest over the year growth rate in the state for May with 3.5%, which was the first time in six years it outperformed Phoenix at 3.1% growth. Other Arizona metros had growth rates of 3.3% in Prescott, 1.5% in Lake Havasu City-Kingman,  1.3% in Yuma, 0.35 in Flagstaff and -1.2% in Sierra Vista-Douglas. Industries growing the most over the last year in Arizona were education and health services; trade, transportation and utilities; and professional and business services. Government, natural resources and mining, and other services all lost jobs over the last 12 months.  The unemployment rate for the state ticked up to 5.6% in May from 5.5%in April.

Arizona initial unemployment claims were 4,862 the week ending June 4; this was 180 less than the week prior. The four-week average, which smooths out volatility, changed little at 4,676 compared to 4,604 the week before. Initial applications for unemployment benefits in the U.S. rose to a seasonally adjusted 277,000 for the week ending June 11. The four-week average decreased slightly to 269,250.  

 Consumer prices rose 0.2% in May on a seasonally adjusted basis according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics June 16 release. Food prices were lower, but energy costs were higher, with gasoline prices rising 2.3% for the month. The index for all items less food and energy rose 0.2%. The annual inflation rate was 1.0% in May.

Producer prices increased 0.4% in May. Final demand prices for goods were up 0.7%, attributable mainly to increased gasoline prices. Final demand services were up 0.2%. The change in producer prices over the last 12 months was -0.1% on an unadjusted basis.

Per pupil spending increased 2.7% nationally in 2014, the largest increase in public education spending since 2008 according to the June 9th Census Bureau release. Arizona per pupil spending increased 4.4% in 2014 after declines in the previous three years. Even so, at $7,528, Arizona ranked third from last in per pupil spending in the nation. Utah spent the least per pupil, at $6,500, while New York spent the most at $20,610. When you break down current spending per pupil in 2014, Arizona spent the least amount on school administration and only Idaho spent less than Arizona for total instruction.

The Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) report for the 4th quarter 2015 was released June 8.  Employment increased in 308 of the 342 largest counties in the U.S. between December 2014 and December 2015, Maricopa and Pima among them.  The job growth rate for Maricopa County was 3.2%, well above the 1.9% national rate, while Tucson was much lower at 0.7%. Williamson County, Tennessee had the largest percent increase for employment in the nation at 6.8%. Wages increased 4.4% nationally over the same period. Wages in both Maricopa and Pima increased at a rate just below the U.S. at 4.1% and 4.0%, respectively.

There were 1,408 bankruptcies filed in Arizona during May, down 1.9% from the same month last year. Year-to-date bankruptcies are down 7.8% in the state.

Hands and calculator photo courtesy Shutterstock.
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