New figures from the Department of Administration put the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for December at 7.9 percent. That's up a tenth of a point from November.
The number of people employed last month went up. But Aruna Murthy, the agency's director of economic analysis, said the number of people out looking for work went up more. Hence the increase in the rate. Even with that explanation, though, Murthy said there may be less to the numbers than it appears. She said the report, which comes from a survey of employers, shows total retail employment dropped in December from the prior month. Murthy said that's never happened in 20 years. So she believes the sample is flawed.
"It is that time of the year when people get busy with their businesses and they are not doing the usual sending off of the surveys and the reporting," Murthy said. "That might be contributing to this. It's not the economy has gone south. No, it's not the case. And it's not that retail businesses have gone south."
Even with the questions the number raise, Murthy said the December report still looks good.
She said the private sector added 4,900 jobs last month. And year over year, the total number of people working at Arizona private companies up by 57,700. That puts employment 2.8 percent above where it was a year earlier.Stat