Arizona Unemployment

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The latest on Arizona’s jobs market with Aruna Murthy, Director of Economic Analysis for the Arizona Department of Commerce.

Ted Simons: Arizona's unemployment rate is at 9.6%. That's according to the state's department of commerce. But if you factor in those who stop looking for a job and folks who are working part-time but want full-time work, the unemployment rate nearly doubles. Here to talk about all this is, Aruna Murthy, the Director of Economic Analysis for the state's Department of Commerce. Good to see you again.

Aruna Murthy: Good to see you, thank you.

Ted Simons: The jobless rate, 9.6%. Who is counted?

Aruna Murthy: People who are available and looking for jobs. So what does that unemployment rate among those people is what that represents. If you stop looking for a job, you drop out, so you're not counted in the survey. You count all the people who are available and looking, as well as those people who are discouraged and part-time workers who want a full-time job, under employed people.

Ted Simons: The folks that are actively searching for employment and are unemployed, anything from part-timers to students, the folks taking early social security, I guess would you call them marginally employed?

Aruna Murthy: That's right.

Ted Simons: OK. How are they counted? How do you get the numbers for all these folks?

Aruna Murthy: The Bureau of Labor Statistics does surveys, and counts those, and they have detailed information on the website. But they do a national survey, and they account for discouraged workers, exact procedure what is followed, handled by a different person in my department, and he should be able to speak more to the details on that. But they essentially all that information is captured through a survey.

Ted Simons: So it's like a survey with kind of a local input into the survey. Correct?

Aruna Murthy: That's right. Bureau of Labor Statistics works with Arizona Department of Commerce in order to come up with the numbers. But as far as U6 numbers, we don't report that, we only have close to a U3. But the numbers -- that information is totally gathered using a survey.

Ted Simons: And that information it sounds like you could be up to 18 some-odd percent with the quote unquote marginally employed looking for work. That's pretty high.

Aruna Murthy: That's right. It's 18.5% as of 2009. That's roughly one in five people.

Ted Simons: Compare that to previous years.

Aruna Murthy: That's right. A lot of unemployed people, and a lot of discouraged people as well, that's what causes that number to go high. But even in previous years, you find roughly the same relationship between the U3 and U6. It hasn't changed a lot, but slightly more than what we have seen in the past. Mainly because of the times we are in right now.

Ted Simons: And the times we're in right now, we're at 9.6 with the U3 number, and we'll stick with that for the time being, because that's the one that everyone see and compares against with other states and around the country. When -- do the numbers show anything as far as that improving significantly in the near future?

Aruna Murthy: I don't want to speak to the unemployment rate itself because we don't project those numbers out. What I can speak to are the actual employment numbers. Where we see changes happening. And as well as the projected employment and occupation numbers in the future. Compared to the same time last year, we are way better than where we were last year. If you look at the year over year numbers, we have pretty much close to zero percent. We're at negative .3%. Once we have crossed the zero percent mark it's telling us we are doing better than -- gaining more jobs. Compared to other states, like Nevada, like California, unemployment rate is relatively lower, so we are in a better position compared to those states. Florida, their rate is much higher than Arizona's unemployment rate. Similarly if you look at Nevada, the rank in terms of year-to-year growth, they're 50th in the state according to the most recent number, whereas we are 36th among the 50 states. So yes once upon a time in the top positions, now we're 36. We have gone as low as being the 50th position also. So we are climbing up our ranks, and things are getting better in Arizona.

Ted Simons: As far as the jobs are concerned, what kind of jobs are we talking about here? If they're getting better, they're getting better for whom?

Aruna Murthy: Well, the jobs that we are expecting to be creating is in the health care area. In the short-term, it's not a great story. There are more -- short-term is between 2009-11, so we had already in 2010. It's again -- in the long-term, we do see most of the sectors are gaining jobs. Most of the jobs, if you look at -- it is a cashier and registered nurses, home health care, those types of professions. If you look at just the person's growth, that also comes down to a lot of health care jobs like medical practitioners, doctors, nurses, I think mainly if you look at profession by itself, would I think the health industry is going to see a lot of jobs in Arizona, mainly because we have a population changing. We have a lot of people who maybe is getting into 65 plus, we're having migration of old people also, we would have people are living longer, so the demand for the health care occupation assist going to be high, and we expect that to be in the next 10 years or so.

Ted Simons: All right. Very good. Thank you so much for joining us.

Aruna Murthy: Thank you very much.

Aruna Murthy:Director of Economic Analysis for Arizona Department of Commerce;

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