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Warehouse & delivery jobs growing faster than retail

Online sales continue to grow rapidly across the country and that is shifting more jobs from traditional stores to warehouse and package delivery in Tucson and the rest of Arizona.

Transportation and warehousing jobs in Arizona grew by 3,000 over the year (July 2016 to July 2017), for a 3.7 percent growth, as more people are finding jobs in large Amazon-type complexes, operating forklifts, preparing packages or driving trucks, the Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity reported Thursday during its monthly jobs report.

Traditional retail jobs grew by 1,300, or just 0.4 percent in that time.

Metro Tucson, which continues to lag the rest of Arizona in job growth, lost 1,100 retail jobs over the year and gained 300 positions in the transportation, warehousing and utilities sector.

"It (traditional retail) is in a little bit of a transition period as they are grappling for space within the online retail community," said Doug Walls, research administrator at the state office.

The U.S. Census Bureau reported Tuesday in its latest quarterly e-commerce report that online sales across the country grew 4.8 percent from the first to the second quarter of 2017, to $111.5 billion. That is about 16 percent higher than a year earlier (second quarter of 2016).

Walls said online sales accounted for five percent of all retail sales in 2012 and now account for almost nine percent.

Job growth still slow in Tucson

Metro Tucson again recorded Arizona's lowest job growth in July, adding 2,100 jobs or 0.6 percent from July 2016 to July 2017, the state office reported Thursday.

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Tucson's growth has lagged the state and other Arizona metro areas for months.

The other over-the-year job growths in July were: Yuma, 3.9 percent; metro Phoenix, 2.2 percent; Arizona and Flagstaff, 1.7 percent; the United States and Lake Havasu City-Kingman, 1.5 percent, and Prescott, 0.8 percent.

And while Tucson's unemployment rate remained unchanged from June to July, at 4.9 percent, that was an improvement over the 5.3 percent rate in July 2016. Unemployment rates estimate the percentage of people looking for jobs.

Arizona's unemployment rate also was unchanged in July at 5.1 percent. It has held steady at 5 or 5.1 percent every month since last August. The latest U.S. jobless rate is 4.3 percent.

Arizona has added 45,000 jobs (1.7 percent) over the past year, with the private sector adding 41,400 of those.

Where hires are more likely

Jobs at restaurants and bars continue to grow the fastest in metro Tucson. Those businesses added 1,800 positions from July 2016 to July 2016, for an almost six percent growth. Hotels added another 200 jobs. The leisure and hospitality sector is also the state's fastest growing sector.

Tucson continues to see its government sector grow at a slightly faster pace than Arizona and metro Phoenix. Government jobs (mostly in state and local education) added 1,400 positions, or 2.1 percent, from July 2016 to July 2017. In contrast, the private sector added only 700 jobs, for a mere 0.2 percent growth.

Government jobs grew over the year only 1.5 percent in metro Phoenix and 1 percent for all of Arizona.

Other sectors adding significant jobs over the year in metro Tucson included education and health services (mostly health care), 1,600; aerospace products and parts, 800, and financial activities, 700.

Those gains were offset by losses in other sectors, including professional and business services, which lost 1,700 jobs; retail trade, minus 1,100; construction, minus 300 , and natural resources and mining, minus 100.

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Wages growing faster in Arizona

Arizonans working in private sector jobs are still seeing their wages grow faster than the national average. Average Arizona hourly earnings grew 6.9 percent over the year to $24.92 but remained below the national average of $26.36, Walls said. Even when adjusted for inflation, Arizona's wage growth was 4.1 percent, compared to 1.3 percent for the nation.

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Residential real estate snapshot

Residential sales in metro Tucson slowed  from June to July.  But then who wanted to go house shopping in all that rain? It is still a seller's market and the median price in July was higher than it was a year earlier. This data comes from the Tucson Association of Realtors and Multiple Listing Service of Southern Arizona.

  • The number of homes sold fell to 1,406 in July, compared to 1,395 in June. That was just .8 percent higher than July 2016.
  • The median sales price fell 4 percent to $191,725 in July, compared with June. That was 5.6 percent above July 2016.
  • Average days on the market dropped from 44 in June to 39 in July – the lowest it has been in more than ten years. That indicates buyers aren't dawdling.
  • New listings fell from 2,048 in June to 1,827 in July. But they were still almost nine percent higher than a year earlier. In contrast, the number of active listings in July fell about  8.5 percent to 3,602, compared with July 2016, as sales picked up this year.