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Tucson's job growth still sluggish

Arizona and especially metro Phoenix continued to have healthy job growth in September while the Tucson area struggled.

The state’s jobless rate fell to 4.7 percent in September from 5 percent in August. That is the lowest the Arizona rate has been since January 2008, the Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity reported Thursday.

“We’ve seen moderate and consistent growth since the end of the recession, and that’s continued for seven years now,” said Doug Walls, research administrator.

An estimated 68,000 more people are working in the state than a year earlier, he said

Arizona continues to do especially better than the nation when it comes to adding manufacturing jobs. Those jobs grew 2.8 percent in the state but only 1 percent in the United States in September, compared with a year earlier.

The jobless rate also improved in Tucson, falling to 4.2 percent from 4.6 percent in August. A year earlier it was 5 percent.

But Tucson was the only major metro area in Arizona to report overall losses. The overall number of non-farm jobs fell by .6 percent from September 2016 to last month to 374,500, according to the state office.

The Sierra Vista-Douglas and Lake Havasu-Kingman areas gained the most jobs over the year, with 2.3 percent, followed by metro Phoenix, 1.7 percent; Arizona and Yuma, 1.3 percent; the U.S., 1.2 percent and Flagstaff, .6 percent.

While most of Tucson’s job sectors had weaker job growth or losses compared with the state, it did excel in one area: the growth of financial jobs such as real estate, insurance and banking and financial advisors.

Tucson’s financial sector added 5,200 jobs (4.1 percent)  to reach 17,900 and Arizona’s financial jobs increased 2.5 percent. Tucson even surpassed the Phoenix area’s 2.4 percent growth, although Phoenix has a larger pool of 181,400 people working in those jobs..

But metro Tucson isn’t doing as well when it comes to other professional and business jobs, such as accountants, lawyers, doctors, engineers and architects. The number of people in those professions fell 5.6 percent to 49,000 in September from a year earlier.

That sector hasn’t been doing well at the state level either. It only increased .4 percent in September in Arizona.

Construction is another area that is especially lagging in Tucson. While those jobs increased 2.3 percent at the state level, they fell 2 percent to 14,800 in the Tucson region.

Trade, transportation and utility jobs – a broad sector dominated by retail jobs – fell by 1.3 percent in metro Tucson to 59,100. It had only a .2 percent growth statewide as shoppers continue to ignore physical stores for online ones.

Leisure and hospitality jobs grew by 3.9 percent statewide but .7 percent in Tucson.

That includes restaurant, bar and hotel jobs. One of Tucson’s better job areas was food services and drinking places, which grew 4.5 percent to 32,600 jobs. 

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Tucson jobs

SectorJobs in Sept. 2017Change from Sept. 2016
Aerospace manufacturing12,3006%
Food, drinking places32,6004.5%
Financial activities 17,9004.1%
General merchandise stores8,5003.7%
Transportation, warehouse, utilities10,4003%