State's Jobless Rate Steady, But Recovery Not Stalled

Jul 19, 2012

The state's jobless rate remained at 8.2 percent for the third month in a row. But a closer look at the data suggests that does not mean the recovery here has stalled.

On paper, the state shed 39,800 jobs between May and June. But economist Aruna Murthy pointed out that most of those were in local education. These are the staffers in public schools who are not on contracts, everyone ranging from bus drivers to cafeteria help, who normally join the ranks of the unemployed over the summer. Other sectors of the economy, such as hotels, bars and restaurants, also lost employment. But here, too, that shift is common for this time of year. Murthy said the real indicator is that state employment is up by 57,300 over the same time a year earlier. She said that 2.4 percent year-over-year growth is the best for June since the beginning of the recession. And Murthy said most sectors of the Arizona economy are doing far better than the rest of the country.

"Retail trade is doing very well," Murthy said. "The U.S. average is 0.7. We are at 2.5. To the typical traditional sectors in Arizona, the retail trade, the leisure and hospitality, the construction, over the year they're all doing good. If you look at it, nationally things have slowed down a little bit. In Arizona, since we have the traditional sectors, we are not seeing that much of a change."

Murthy said what also makes her optimistic is that, once the summer passes, the state has historically been able to count on strong job growth.