State jobless rate dips in August

Phoenix, AZ – On paper, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for August was 9.3 percent. That's down a tenth of a point from July. And the number of people working last month is 40,000 more than at the same time last year, a gain of about 1.7 percent. But Aruna Murthy of the state Department of Administration said that number is artificially inflated.

(Mainly driving this inflated number is the gain in local and state education. I would not expect this number. A normal number would be about a percent or point 9, about a percent.)

That employment boost is largely in non-teaching jobs in state universities, community colleges and public schools, people ranging from janitors to food service workers. They are considered unemployed over the summer even though they know they will be going back to work when the kids return. And while that occurs at the end of EVERY summer, Murthy said the figures for this past August are higher than in prior years, likely because the school year started early. The same situation exists for the big jump in the number of people working in the food service industry.

(And a lot of those gains are from back-to-school catering being done by the restaurants within that particular industry.)

Still, Murthy said that even when all that is factored out, the situation is at least marginally better than it was a year ago when the state had a jobless rate of 10.3 percent. For Arizona Public Radio this is Howard Fischer.