Arizona jobless rate 4 percent in October, Yuma County 18 percent

By Howard Fischer
Capitol Media Services
PHOENIX — Inflation may be rising faster in Arizona than pretty much anywhere else.
But that isn’t keeping people from going out and enjoying themselves.
That is being pointed up in the latest employment figures which shows Arizona’s leisure and hospitality industry added 7,200 jobs in October. That’s a 2.2% change from the prior month, a rate of increase twice as fast as the rest of the state’s private sector.
The majority of that is hiring by bars and restaurants.
And it’s not just a one month thing. Those employers have added more than 9,100 workers in the past year.
Doug Walls, the labor market information director for the state Office of Economic Opportunity, said some of this can be attributed to a shift in consumer spending.
In 2020, he said, with the nation in a pandemic, people weren’t going out. Instead, their dollars went into buying products.
That was reflected with sharp gains in online purchases.
Now, Walls said, spending patterns are going back to where they were before. And he said that, even with inflation price increases, that is resulting in more people going out to eat — and restaurants and bars having to hire more workers.
That is being reflected in a new survey conducted by the National Restaurant Association.
“Despite the booming popularity of off-premises restaurant meals and snack in recent years, pent-up demand for in-restaurant experiences — socialization, celebration, and culinary exploration — is strong,” the association said, with 70% of those responding saying they desired to gather on premises.
Walls said the overall employment market in Arizona is good despite the fact that the seasonally adjusted jobless rate ticked up two-tenths of a point, to 3.9%. He said people looking for work have plenty of opportunities.
The rate of job openings increased by two-tenths of a point in September from August, to 6.7% And the hiring rate also is up, from 3.8% in August to 4.6% in September.
What makes that significant, Walls said, is the two rates normally track pretty closely. What the widening gap shows, he said, is employers are still looking for workers and are still hiring.
Separately, Walls said the “quits” rate increased between August and September.
“Generally, you’ll see a higher quits rate in times of economic prosperity or when individuals feel that they have options in terms of the job market,” he said. “They might be leaving one job to go to another job that has more flexible hours, that’s more in line with their career path or has more competitive wages.”
Thursday’s report also finds continued growth in construction employment. But that could be slowing as the state’s housing market continues to chill, especially with mortgage interest rates continuing to rise as the Federal Reserve Board boosts the cost of money in its efforts to cool inflation.
The number of building permits issue for new private housing dropped again in September — the most recent data available — and now stands at just 4,840. That is a decline of 381 from the same time a year earlier, a decrease of 6.2%.
All that also is affecting the market for existing homes.
Walls said the active listings for homes rose another 6.1% between September and October. It now is at 25,253, a rate that is 136% higher than last year.
Other data shows that the average home is remaining on the market for 52 days. A year earlier it was 34 days.
Home sellers are taking note: The median listing price dropped another $7,500 in October from September and now stands at $470,000 after having peaked at nearly $521,000 more than a year ago.
All that is creating fallout in another sector of the state economy that Walls monitors.
Employment of “credit intermediaries” dropped by 400 in the past month and now is down 1,600 in the past year. Walls said these are people who were working at commercial banks and real estate credit firms that issue mortgages which, with slow demand, is drying up.
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On Twitter: @azcapmedia

Area / October 2022 / September / October 2021

Arizona (seas adj) / 3.9% / 3.7% / 3.9%
Arizona / 4.1% / 4.2% / 3.7%

US (seas adj) / 3.7% / 3.5% / 4.6%

Apache / 9.2% / 8.9% / 7.3%
Cochise / 4.5% / 4.5% / 3.8%
Coconino / 4.8% / 4.6% / 4.4%
Gila / 4.2% / 4.4% / 3.7%
Graham / 3.6% / 3.6% / 3.0%
Greenlee / 3.1% / 3.1% / 2.8%
La Paz / 4.8 / 4.9% / 3.8%
Maricopa / 3.4% / 3.5% / 3.2%
Mohave / 4.8% / 4.9% / 4.3%
Navajo / 5.8% / 5.7% / 5.0%
Pima / 4.0% / 4.1% / 3.6%
Pinal / 4.0% / 4.1% / 3.4%
Santa Cruz / 10.3% / 10.0% / 7.9%
Yavapai / 3.4% / 3.6% / 3.0%
Yuma / 17.9% / 17.1% / 12.7%

— Source: Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity

Sector / October 2022 / Change in last month / Change in last year
(All figures in thousands)

Total nonfarm / 3.127.4 / 31.0 / 105.6
Private sector / 2.702.7 / 30.2 / 100.0

Manufacturing / 197.8 / 0.6 / 14.8
Natural resources & mining / 13.1 / 0.2 / 0.9
Construction / 187.8 / 0.6 / 9.4
Trade, transportation, utilities / 608.7 / 7.1 / 13.2
Information / 50.3 / (-0.3) / 1.0
Financial activities / 246.6 / 2.6 / (-0.4)
Professional & business services / 463.6 / 5.0 / 10.6
Private education & health services / 499.0 / 5.3 / 29.6
Leisure & hospitality / 338.3 / 7.2 / 16.9
Other services / 97.5 / 1.9 / 4.0
Government (including public education) / 424.7 / 0.8 / 5.6

— Source: Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity

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