A top state economist predicted today that job growth here will be stagnant for the rest of the year. Arizona Public Radio’s Howard Fischer explains.
Aruna Murthy of the Department of Administration figures employers will hire just 53,500 new workers this entire year. That’s a 2.1 percent annual job growth — the same as the last two years, a rate she describes as subpar. Most of that will be in Maricopa and Pinal counties, with the remainder of the state growing at just 1.3 percent. Murthy said the problem is economic uncertainty. Businesses note that consumers are banking money and paying down debt rather than spending.
“And when the demand becomes uncertain, you’re unable to make business investments because you’re not sure if I produce a particular widget, will that widget be sold. So that’s what we are in right now. The result is it creates an environment not conducive to strong growth,” Murthy said.
Some sectors of the economy will do better than others. Murthy said population growth will drive the need for doctors and urgent-care centers. There also will be increases in employment in the lower-wage sectors of retail employment and people working at bars and restaurants. But, Murthy said she sees no signs that the state’s manufacturing industry will get back to pre-recession levels in the foreseeable future.