by Valorie H. Rice
Senior Specialist, Business Information

Real GDP grew at an annual rate of 1.4% in the first quarter 2017, according to the most recent estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) on June 29. This was an upward revision from earlier estimates, with personal consumption expenditures and exports increasing more than previously estimated. Real GDP increased 2.1% in the fourth quarter 2106. The BEA will release the annual update of the national income and product accounts on July 28, which will include revised GDP figures for first quarter 2014 to first quarter 2017. 

Phoenix home prices moved above the U.S. in April after placing just below the nation for several months. The June 27 S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Home Price Indices release reported the annual gain in home prices in Phoenix was 5.7% and 5.5% for the nation in April. Seattle and Portland continue to have the highest year-over-year gains in home prices, with 12.9%, and 9.3%, respectively for April. Denver had the third highest home price gain in March, while Dallas took the third position in April.  

State personal income in Arizona grew at 1.0% in the first quarter of 2017, the same rate as the average for the nation, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis June 27 release. Personal income grew fastest in Idaho at 1.6% while Nebraska had a 0.1% decline in personal income. 

The Census Bureau released 2016 population estimates by age, sex, race and Hispanic origin for states and counties on June 22. Every state had either the same or an increased median age compared to the year before. Arizona’s median age in 2016 was 37.6, which was just below that of the nation at 37.9. Maine had the highest median age at 44.6 while at 30.8, Utah had the lowest. The Census Bureau cites the baby boomer generation for the increase in the median age, with the prediction that it will continue to increase in the years to come. Median age in Arizona counties ranged from 31 in Coconino to 55.9 in La Paz. In fact, three counties had median age above 50 – La Paz, Yavapai at 53.3 and 51.1 for Mohave.

Prices for goods and services in Arizona were lower than that of the U.S. in 2015 according the June 22 Bureau of Economic Analysis Real Personal Income for State and Metropolitan Areas release, which includes regional price parity data. With the U.S. equaling 100, the regional price parity data demonstrate the costs of goods and services in the states and metro areas compared to the nation. Arizona was 96.2 for all items, placing it 3.8% below the nation for the cost of living.  Arizona metropolitan areas were generally less expensive to live in compared to the nation: Flagstaff 98.6, Lake Havasu City-Kingman 93.0, Phoenix 97.2, Prescott 95.2, Sierra Vista-Douglas 89.7, Tucson 97.0, and Yuma 92.9.

Arizona job growth was 1.8% in May year-over-year. This was higher than the national growth of 1.5% for May. The unemployment rate ticked up slightly to 5.1% for the month. The May employment report released by the Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity on June 15 listed leisure and hospitality as the sector with the most over the year growth, adding 17,100 jobs followed by education and health services with a 11,200 gain. Natural resources & mining and other services were the only two sectors to lose jobs over the year. May job growth varied in Arizona metro areas: Flagstaff 1.1%, Lake Havasu City-Kingman 1.7%, Phoenix 2.4%, Prescott 1.9%, Sierra Vista -0.3%, Tucson -0.1%, and Yuma 3.4%.  

The Consumer Price Index decreased 0.1% in May on a seasonally adjusted basis according to the June 14 Bureau of Labor Statistics release. A deceleration of energy prices was a factor in the lower index for the month. The food index rose, as did the index for all items, less food and energy. The annual inflation rate was 1.9% for May.

Per student spending increased in every state during 2015, except for Arizona, which declined 0.5%. The U.S. Census Bureau Public Education Finances 2015 report was released June 14, reported that per student spending in fiscal year 2015 was $11,392 nationally, a 3.5% increase over FY2014. Arizona’s per pupil spending in fiscal year 2015 was $7,489. This wasn’t the lowest in the U.S. – that was Utah at $6,575, while the highest was New York at $21,206.

Producer prices were unchanged in May, seasonally adjusted, according to the June 13 Bureau of Labor Statistics release. Final demand goods had a 0.5 decrease over the month while final demand services increased 0.3%. The unadjusted 12-month change in producer prices for May was 2.4%.

Employment increased in 280 of the 344 largest counties in the United States between December 2015 and December 2016 according to the fourth quarter 2016 County Employment and Wages (QCEW) release from BLS. While employment increased during this time, wages decreased. The U.S. average weekly wage declined 1.5% over the year in 2016. Both Maricopa and Pima counties followed the national trend – increasing 2.4% and 1.3% respectively in employment, and decreasing 2.3% and 3.4% respectively in wages. 

The U.S. trade deficit increased in April to $47.6 billion according to the joint Bureau of Economic Analysis/Census Bureau report released June 2.  The March figure has been revised upwards to $45.3 billion.  Exports slipped down to $191.0 billion in April ($0.5 billion less than March) while imports were $1.9 billion higher than the month previous. Year-to-date, the deficit of goods and services was 13.4% larger than the same period last year. 

Total nonfarm employment in the U.S. increased by 138,000 in May according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics release on June 2. Sectors with the most jobs gains were education and health services (particularly health care) and professional and business services. The unemployment rate dropped slightly to 4.3%.

Buckeye, Arizona was one of the fastest-growing cities in the U.S. for 2016, according to the Census Bureau. It had the seventh largest percent growth in the nation for the July 1, 2016 population estimates for cities and towns, released on May 25. Texas towns claimed four of the top five spots of cites with the largest population growth between 2015 and 2016. Phoenix traded places with Philadelphia, moving up to the 5th populous city in the nation on July 1, 2016 compared to 6th on July 1, 2015.

Arizona home prices rose 6.7% for the first quarter of 2017 compared to the same period in 2016 according to the Federal Housing Financial Agency Home Price Index May 24 release. Prices rose 6.0% nationally. Metropolitan area home price data are available in the FHFA release using the all-transactions index, which includes both purchase and refinancing mortgages.  One-year price changes for Arizona metros for the first quarter 2017 were: 8.9% for Flagstaff, 5.7% for Lake Havasu City-Kingman, 8.0% for Phoenix, 8.9% for Prescott, 5.4% for Sierra Vista-Douglas, also 5.4% for Tucson, and 2.1% for Yuma.

There were 1,360 bankruptcies filed in Arizona during May, down 3.4% from the same time last year. The Phoenix office (Apache, Coconino, Gila, Maricopa, Navajo, and Yavapai) had 952 filings, the Tucson office (Cochise, Graham, Greenlee, Pima, Pinal, and Santa Cruz) had 341 and the Yuma office (La Paz, Mohave, and Yuma) was at 67. Year-to-date bankruptcies for the state are down 1.4% compared to last year.

Hands and calculator photo courtesy Shutterstock.

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