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Tucson's job growth tied for 3rd place in Az

Metro Tucson’s job growth over the year remained above the national average in September but fell to third place in the state after hovering in second place for several months.

The region added 7,600 jobs year-over-year (comparing September 2016 to September 2015) , for a 2.1 percent growth, the Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity reported Thursday.

That compares to a 1.7 percent growth for the nation, and is slower than Arizona’s overall average of 2.3 percent.

Prescott again had the state's highest growth, with 6.1 percent, followed by metro Phoenix with 2.5 percent. Yuma tied with Tucson at 2.1 percent.

The sectors reporting the strongest job growth in metro Tucson over the year were information (computer technology), 11.64 percent; financial activities 10.9 percent;  aerospace products and parts, 6.6 percent; and food services and drinking places, 5.9 percent.

Arizona’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 5.5 percent in September, from 5.8 percent in August. That was higher than the U.S rate of 5 percent. Some sectors that did well over the year were education and health services (particularly for-profit schools), which reported 18,700 more jobs over the year. Construction added 10,400 jobs; professional and business services, 9,200, and leisure and hospitality, 8,600.

And although Freeport-McMoRan announced in December that it would put more than 1,000 miners out of work in Green Valley, the state tally showed that over the year, resources and mining in the Tucson area and all of Pima County only fell by 100 jobs. The number of jobs fell to 2,100 from 2,200. Freeport in June announced plans to postpone plans to completely close mining operations, sparing about 500 jobs at the Sierrita Mine.

Doug Walls, research analyst for the state office that compiled the report, said its monthly reports are based in part on a survey of businesses. But because only about a third of the businesses in the state are questioned, the monthly state numbers can be inaccurate and differ with news reports. Also, the businesses may be surveyed before layoffs take place. The state adjusts, or "benchmarks," the numbers every January, using data from about 95 percent of the businesses in the state.

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Numbers of jobs in certain sectors also fluctuate over the year. For example, statewide numbers for natural resources and mining reached 13,100 in September 2015, fell to 11,400 in February and increased to 12,000 last month. 

Tucson's unemployment rate fell to 5.2 percent in September, from 5.4 percent in August.

The state office projected that Arizona will gain about 1.16 million people and 577,300 jobs between 2014 and 2024 and that 81 percent of those will come in the Phoenix area. The Tucson region will get 14.4 percent, and the rest of the state, 13.6 percent.

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