Arizona Job Progress Meter

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The Center for the Future of Arizona along with the Arizona Commerce Authority have created a Job Creation Progress Meter to keep track of indicators of job creation statewide. Darcy Renfro, senior director for the Center for the Future of Arizona, will tell us about the Job Progress Meter.

Ted Simons: The center for the future of Arizona, and the Arizona commerce authority, has created what they hope will be a way to measure job creation statewide. For more on this, we welcome Darcy Renfro, senior director for the center for the future of Arizona. Welcome to "Arizona Horizon."

Darcy Renfro: Thank you.

Ted Simons: Job creation progress meter, what are we talking about here?

Darcy Renfro: The progress meter here, the job creation progress meter is a set of indicators that help us measure how Arizona's doing with regard to what we call the citizen goal. The citizen goals were set up led by the center for the future of Arizona by a statewide poll done by the Gallup organization years ago and with the opinions of Arizonans we built goals that relate to various areas. This is how we measure whether people in Arizona, whether we're growing good jobs, how our economy is doing and how we're doing with regard to innovation and the economy so the progress meter is a set of indicators that we and the commerce authority worked on and 40 other organizations endorsed and are using so the interesting part is they're common so people are using a same set to measure progress but we're also building success stories around each of the indicators to help give communities, organizations, and individuals an idea of what they can do, what kinds of actions they can take to help promote job growth.

Ted Simons: So overall just a better understanding of the economic environment and job growth in particular?

Darcy Renfro: And very specific information that kind of takes a big topic like job creation and breaks it down into sizable pieces, and then we add narrative and stories so people get a sense of what does that actually look like? And in this case we'll be updating them on an annual basis and where we can, we are able to get at least county level data and sometimes, city municipal level data so people can find out what's happening in their community and how it's doing.

Ted Simons: Are you getting cooperation from everyone on this?

Darcy Renfro: Absolutely yes. Yeah. We sent an innovation to a lot of different organizations to join and use the job creation progress meter. And these common indicators. We have 40 organizations, they range from counties, cities, economic development organizations, workforce development and business organizations have joined and said this is great. This is a great place, a common place where we can look up this information and use with our communities.

Ted Simons: And I see among the sets of indicators we've got net new jobs, that one pretty self-explanatory. The U.6 rate. Explain what that is.

Darcy Renfro: It measures not just standard job openings, the ones we usually rear are the unemployment rate. It's a lot standard that the standard unemployment rate because it includes part-time and underemployed individuals. It's a better, more accurate picture of how we're doing as a state with regard to jobs.

Ted Simons: Also total exports are involved here as well as per capita income as a percentage of the U.S. average.

Darcy Renfro: That's an area that's always been a focus for Arizona. We are about 83% of the national average which means a job that you have here in Arizona pays about 83% of what someone else might have in another state. So that's a pretty important figure, and it's one of those we need to keep an eye on and look how are we going to help people in Arizona make a good living.

Ted Simons: As an example of this meter and these measures and indicators and such, if you see all of a sudden, we're dipping to 80 and we're not doing quite as well, that says to people what?

Darcy Renfro: It says to people that we need to focus on bringing better jobs. So there are lots of kinds of jobs, right? And there are different -- some jobs pay more and some jobs pay less. We need to focus on how are we growing and attracting jobs that are paying higher wages? That's really what that's about. So if the number of people having a job, if you have a job that you can't afford to pay your mortgage or your rent then that's a problem so that's what that's about and I think keeping just -- it's a reminder that the whole picture about jobs in Arizona isn't just sort of do we have them or not but what kinds of jobs do we have?

Ted Simons: Indeed last couple here, percentage of residents with two or four-year college degrees, that's pretty self-explanatory. Venture capital per capita. We need to do better on that.

Darcy Renfro: We do and where we are, we divided it on a per capita basis. We're $32. The national average is $150. We do produce a lot of great intellectual property, but we're still not attracting outside capital the way that a lot of other states, that's a big struggle we have had very limited access to venture capital in Arizona for a long time. So what we do here is promote startups and innovative ideas and accelerators and incubators and things that will hopefully come from that, bringing growing jobs from within the state.

Ted Simons: If I'm a business person right now and I'm hearing about this, I'm just curious about this, where do I find these numbers and these measurements?

Darcy Renfro: You can go to Arizonafuture.org, and you will find the job creation progress meter as well as the education progress meter, and then by January 2017 we will have a full set of seven progress meters in all the areas.

Ted Simons: Busy times.

Darcy Renfro: It is.

Ted Simons: All right, well good to have you here, good information, thank you.

Darcy Renfro: Thank you.

Darcy Renfro: Senior Director for the Center for the Future of Arizona

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