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Tucson remains in 2nd place for job growth in Az

After rising for several months, unemployment rates for Arizona and metro Tucson and Phoenix fell from July to August as fewer people were either not working or actively looking for jobs, an Arizona office reported Thursday.

And Tucson tied with Phoenix for having the second highest job growth over the year, behind Prescott, according to the August report.

A month ago, Tucson was in second place in the state and third in the nation. But a University of Arizona economist said this week he doesn’t think it can hold on to that distinction.

Arizona’s jobless rate fell to 5.8 percent in August, from 6 percent in July. Tucson’s rate fell to 5.4 percent from 5.8, and Phoenix’s rate dropped to 5 percent from 5.4. The rate estimates the percent of people looking for jobs.

The  rates largely fell because the Arizona labor force shrunk from July to August, said Doug Walls, a researcher with the Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity.

“We have to wait and see if that is a trend or a bump in the road,” he said, adding that the numbers could reflect an overestimation of people working in the spring.

Arizona added 54,200 jobs over the year. Most of those, 42,900 were in metro Phoenix and were private, non-government jobs. Government jobs continue to decrease.

Tucson gained 8,200 jobs, also thanks to the private sector, with a 2.3 percent job growth compared to August of 2015. Prescott grew by 3,700 jobs, for a 6.1 percent growth.

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George Hammond, a University of Arizona economist,  said earlier this week that Tucson’s reported 4.2 percent job gain from July 2015 to July 2016 was overstated.

“I do think that Tucson is growing a lot faster than it did last year or even the last couple of years. But I am not sure we are seeing job growth in the three to four percent range. I think it is closer to the two-percent range, which is a lot better than the less than one percent growth we saw last year,” he said.

And job numbers can fluctuate a lot due to revisions. Last year preliminary data showed Tucson added 5,000 jobs from 2014 to 2015 for a 1.4 percent growth. But revised date in March showed the growth was only 2,900 jobs or .08 percent, he said.

Jobs appear to be more plentiful. Jobertising.com claimed more than 1,600 openings at a job fair held Tuesday at an east Tucson hotel. And the Arizona Republic recently reported that about 90 companies in the state each had openings of 100 or more.

Here are the local sectors doing best and the worst, based on the  August numbers from the Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity. The numbers list the number of people employed and the over-the-year job growth:

  • Financial activities (bankers, real estate agents, etc.), 19,600; 12.6%
  • Information (computer, technology):  5,000; 8.7%
  • Food services and drinking places: 31,900; 6.7%
  • Aerospace products and parts manufacturing,: 11,400; 6.5%
  • Business support services (includes call centers): 10,200: 5.2%
  • All manufacturing (including aerospace): 23,900; 4.8%
  • Other general merchandise (non department, non food stores):  5,100; 4.1%

Sectors not doing well:

  • Natural resources and mining: 2,100; -8.7%
  • State education:  14,300; -5.9%
  • Construction: 14,300; -4%
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