Arizona Unemployment

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The state’s jobless rate dropped to 6.1% in October, down from 6.3% in September. Arizona Department of Administration economist Doug Walls will tell us more.

TED SIMONS: Coming up next on "Arizona Horizon," the state jobs report for October is in. We'll crunch the numbers. Also tonight, a local hospital ushers in what it calls a new frontier for heart patients. And learn how to create a cat-friendly home for you, your cat, and your furniture. That's next on "Arizona Horizon."

VIDEO: "Arizona Horizon" is made possible by contributions from the Friends of Eight, members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

TED SIMONS: Good evening and welcome to "Arizona Horizon," I'm Ted Simons. The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill today that would impose new regulations on refugees from Syria and Iraq. The bill would require homeland security, the FBI and the director of intelligence to confirm that refugees from those countries pose no threat. Arizona representatives Trent Franks and Paul Gosar voted in favor of the bill.

VIDEO: Well, I think given the recent attacks in Paris, our commitment and our responsibility to keep this country safe is sort of raised in the minds of all of us in terms of awareness and that is our first and most important responsibility in the federal government is to keep Americans safe.

VIDEO: This is not the perfect bill but it's a good start in looking at national security and making sure that the refugees we're bringing into this country safe, reliable and want to be part of the American way of life.

TED SIMONS: The bill now awaits a vote in the senate, where democratic leaders promise to block the legislation, saying that there already is a strict 18- 24-month already is a strict 18- to 24-month vetting process for refugees.

TED SIMONS: The state's jobless rate dropped to 6.1% in October. That's down from 6.3% the previous month. Here to help explain the latest state jobs report is Arizona department of administration economist Doug Walls. Good to have you here. Welcome.

DOUG WALLS: Thanks.

TED SIMONS: Arizona in October, the jobs report, in general what was found?

Well, it was a strong October jobs month in Arizona, nine of our 11 major industries reported over the month employment gains, strongest gains coming from trade, transportation and utilities and a lot of those jobs are going to be seasonal job gains that were anticipating for holiday season ramp-ups. So we're going to see a lot of seasonal jobs in retail and trade and a lot of jobs in transportation.

TED SIMONS: I think we've got some graphs here, the first one of the overall jobless rate and as I mentioned it dropped from 6.3% in September to 6.1%. Pretty good. Still trails the national average, though. What's going on there?

DOUG WALLS: Yeah. And this is true and this has been kind of consistent since the end of the recession. One thing to note is that Arizona was hit a lot harder during the recession. We fell farther and we fell for longer. The official recession ended the middle of 2009. Arizona didn't record employment growth until the middle of 2010. So we fell a lot farther and we are taking a little bit longer to recover. If you look at the employment numbers, though, we actually lead the U.S. in employment growth so we are seeing faster rates of growth in the U.S.

TED SIMONS: Let's look at the Arizona employment level and this particular metric, what do we see with this?

DOUG WALLS: So this is going to be our seasonal employment total non-farm. You're going to see seasonal variations there. But where it stands now about 2.6 million jobs in the economy, not quite at the levels for pre-recession peaks, but we are very close to those levels and again, you can see steady and moderate growth since the end of the recession.

TED SIMONS: As far as job gains, you mentioned sectors nine, 10, 11, something along those lines. We have a graphic of that as well and it looks like again everything from government to private and everything, it looks like natural resources in mining and maybe construction, well construction was up, though wasn't it?

DOUG WALLS: Construction was up over the month and over the year showing above 3% growth, which is a very good sign for the economy as a whole in that sector, natural resources and mining, that's going to be affected, it's a global industry, it's going to be affected by commodity prices but yeah overall, 10 of the 11 we're seeing strong gains in over the month in trade, transportation.

TED SIMONS: What's going on with that?

DOUG WALLS: That's going to be a lot of the seasonal employment gains that we're seeing for the holiday ramp-up.

TED SIMONS: And as far as job gains and losses around the state, we have a graph of that as well and what does this say regarding where the jobs are?

DOUG WALLS: Well, this is saying that the economic recovery that we're seeing is robust, it's not just happening in our major metropolitan areas. It's going to be occurring throughout the state. Again, this is going to be our over the month gains so it's going to be a lot of the seasonal gains for the holidays, and then one thing to note as well is these are percentage gains, so these areas are smaller, once you get down to the sub-state level. A gain of 100 or 200 jobs could influence the percent growth.

TED SIMONS: And relatively similar year-to-year, correct?

DOUG WALLS: Year-to-year, the county, at the county level they're doing better. We're seeing the economy as a whole about 2.4% growth over the year and that's on top of a 1.9% growth over the year in 2014. So we've been seeing that slow and steady growth.

TED SIMONS: I was going to say we're not seeing any sharp edges here but the trend seems to be positive if slow and steady?

DOUG WALLS: Yeah, and coming out of this recession, again, you look at a lot of different economic indicators and it's been very robust, it's been wide ranging and it's not just population driven. It's not just construction or growth driven. It's really a whole recovery.

TED SIMONS: All right. Very good. Good to have you here, thanks for joining us.

DOUG WALLS: Thanks a lot.

Doug Walls : Arizona Department of Administration economist

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