by Valorie H. Rice
Senior Specialist, Business Information


There was a 4.4% increase in Arizona bankruptcy filings in 2017 compared to 2016, making it the first time since 2010 for the state to have an annual increase in bankruptcies. The increase in filings continued on into 2018, as there were 965 bankruptcies in Arizona for January, a 2.1% increase over the same month a year ago. The majority of January bankruptcies this year, like last, were in business liquidation and individual debt adjustment.

U.S. total nonfarm employment was up 200,000 in January with job gains averaging 192,000 over the last three months according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Situation release of February 2. Health care, construction, manufacturing, and food services and drinking places lead the job gains. The unemployment rate was unchanged at 4.1% — this was the fourth month in a row at that rate. Average hourly earnings for nonfarm private sector employees increased 9 cents between December and January and rose 75 cents (2.9%) over the year.

The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices for November 2017 were released January 30. Phoenix house prices had a one-year price change of 5.6%. This was below the 6.2% increase posted for the U.S. and 6.4% for the 20-city composite. The top three cities with the highest price increases were in the West – Seattle house prices continued to be the highest at 12.7% followed by Las Vegas at 10.6% and San Francisco at 9.1%.

Real GDP increased at an annual rate of 2.6% in the fourth quarter 2017 according to the advance estimate released on January 26 from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. There will be another estimate released on February 28 based on more complete source data. Real GDP rose 3.2% in the third quarter 2017.

Third quarter real GDP by state rose at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 2.9% in Arizona. Real GDP improved in all states for the third quarter ranging from a 5.7% increase in Delaware to 0.5% in North Dakota. The January 24 Bureau of Economic Analysis release indicated that finance and insurance was a important contributor to growth in the nation for the quarter as well as in many of the fastest growing states. 

There were only six states with a drop in unemployment rates in December, and Arizona was not one of them. The January 23 Bureau of Labor Statistics state-level employment report disclosed that Arizona’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for December was 4.5% (up from 4.3% in November). The unemployment rate for the U.S. was 4.1%. Several states continued to have record setting low unemployment rates including California, Hawaii, and Mississippi. The high and low unemployment rates for December were once again Hawaii at the low end with a rate of 2.0% and Alaska the high end with a 7.3% rate. The Regional and State Unemployment 2017 Annual Averages report will be released at the end of February and it will contain revisions for civilian labor force and unemployment rates to incorporate, among other things, new population controls and a new procedure for seasonally adjusting the data.

December job growth in Arizona matched the U.S. year-over-year rate of 1.5%. The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose to 4.5% from 4.3% the month prior according to the Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity January 18 release. Education and health services was again the sector with the most year-over-year growth. Other services had a slight gain in employment after having declines every month from January to November. Three industries lost jobs – natural resources and mining; information; and trade, transportation and utilities. December employment change for Arizona metros: Lake Havasu City-Kingman 2.1%, Phoenix 1.8%, Yuma 1.4%, Flagstaff 0.8%, Tucson 0.5%, and both Sierra Vista-Douglas and Prescott with 0.3%. 

The Consumer Price Index increased 0.1% in December on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to the January 12 Bureau of Labor Statistics release. This time, energy was not the biggest contributor to the increase in the overall index, it was shelter (rent or owner equivalent) which rose 0.4%. The index for all items less food and energy went up 0.3% for the month. Annual inflation rate was 2.1% for December.

Producer prices were down 0.1% in December on a seasonally adjusted basis. Final demand goods were unchanged and final demand services decreased 0.2%. Producer prices changed 2.6% over the year according to the January 11 Bureau of Labor Statistics release.

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