Phoenix, AZ – The state's jobless rate remained relatively steady last month.
But that doesn't mean the worst is over.
The unemployment rate dropped by a tenth of a point, to 9.1
percent. But even with the seasonally expected increase in the
number of people working in education, the overall trend remains
Since the beginning of the recession in December 2007,
Arizona has shed 311,700 jobs, including 194,600 in the last year
alone. Cheri Levensen, an economist with the state Department of
Commerce, said one reason the rate may have dropped relates to
the fact that the number is computed based on a survey of about
1,000 households each month where residents are asked if they are
employed and, if not, whether they are actively looking for work.
"This is, again, maybe a back-to-school effect, where some people
that may have indicated they were unemployed during the summer
are now deciding to take classes or go into training programs."
And if they're not looking for work -- for whatever reason --
they're not technically unemployed even if they don't have a job.
One sector of the state economy that continues to remain
particularly anemic is retail trade. It lost another 2,200 jobs
in August, bringing year-over-year losses to 26,600. Levensen
said people just aren't buying as much as they were, with
particular losses in employment in stores that sell home
furnishings, building materials and garden supplies, all linked
to the state's weak housing market.