by Valorie H. Rice
Senior Specialist, Business Information

Real GDP grew at an annual rate of 2.1% in the fourth quarter 2016, moving up from the original estimate of 1.9% as personal consumption expenditures increasing more than previously estimated. Real GDP had increased 3.5% in the third quarter 2016. The 2016 annual level for real GDP increased 1.6% compared to 2.6% in 2015.

Arizona’s personal income rose 4.3% in 2016 according to the March 28 Bureau of Economic Analysis release. This was the 11th fastest growth in the nation. It was also higher than the U.S. rate of 3.6%. Per capita personal income in Arizona, using Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity population estimates, was $40,805 in 2016.  The state’s income growth in the fourth quarter 2016 hit 0.9%, down from 1.8% in the third quarter, but equal to the U.S. rate.

Phoenix home prices rose 5.1% over the year in January. The national figure of 5.9% set a 31-month high for year-over-year home price gains according to the March 28 release from S&P CoreLogic Case-Schiller Home Price Indices. The Phoenix 12-month price change has stayed around 5.0% since last June (was 4.9% in December). Seattle had the highest over the year price change in January at 11.3%, while New York prices increased only 3.2%.

Job growth was 2.0% for Arizona in February according to the Arizona employment report released March 23. Industries growing the most over the year were leisure and hospitality followed by education and health services. Natural resources and mining, information, and other services all lost jobs over the last 12 months.  Over-the-year growth rates for Arizona metros in February were 3.8% in Lake Havasu City-Kingman, 2.9% in Yuma, 2.5% in Phoenix,  2.0% in Prescott, 1.1% in Flagstaff, 0.5% in Tucson, and 0.0% in Sierra Vista-Douglas. The unemployment rate for the state bumped up to 5.0% in February compared to the U.S. rate of 4.7%. Annual benchmarking revisions were released with the January jobs report released in early March. Employment for the state had a slight downward for 2015 while there was a minor upward revision for 2016.

The U.S. added 235,000 nonfarm payroll jobs in February according to the March 10 Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Situation release. The sectors with the most job gains were construction, private educational services, manufacturing, health care and mining. The unemployment rate for the nation was 4.7%, a slight change from 4.8% in January.  

The U.S. trade deficit increased in January, according to the U.S. International Trade in Goods and Services release on March 7. The trade deficit in January was $48.5 billion, up $4.2 billion from December. Exports increased by $1.1 billion while imports increased $5.3 billion over the month. Compared with the same time last year, the deficit of goods and services increased 11.8%, or $5.1 billion. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released its annual Employment Situation of Veterans report on March 22. The unemployment rate for all veterans in the U.S. was 4.3% in 2016, an improvement over the 4.6% unemployment rate in 2015. In Arizona, veterans had an unemployment rate of 3.9% in 2016, far below that of non-veterans at 5.1% for the year.

Consumer prices increased 0.1% in February on a seasonally adjusted basis. The slight increase in the CPI for the month was attributed to food, shelter, and recreation costs as gasoline prices had gone done for the month. Food had the largest uptick in prices since September 2015. The annual inflation rate rose 2.7% in February. 

Producer prices rose 0.3% in February on a seasonally adjusted basis. Prices for final demand goods increased 0.3% while final demand services rose 0.4% for the month.

There were 945 bankruptcy filings in Arizona for the first month of 2017 and 882 for February. There typically has been a drop in bankruptcies during January, and this year was no exception; however, the numbers tend to bounce back up in February. This year they did not as February figures were not only lower than the month before, but were 14.5% lower than the same month a year ago. Year to date, filings were down 3.2%, though this varied depending on which type of bankruptcy. Chapter 11 filings, which allows for reorganization of a business or corporation, actually had a large increase.

There were 3,746 initial unemployment claims in Arizona for the week ending March 11, down slightly from the week prior. The four-week moving average, which smooths out volatility, was also lower at 6,667 compared to 3,732 the week before. Continued claims for Arizona were 5.4% lower than the same time a year ago. Unemployment benefit claims nationally were 261,000 on a seasonally adjusted basis for the week ending March 18. The four-week moving average rose to 246,500.  

Hands and calculator photo courtesy Shutterstock.

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