Ariz. job­less rate down, na­tional rate up

Bars, restau­rants in state as­sist with em­ploy­ment num­bers


PHOENIX — Want to know what’s pro­pel­ling Ari­zona em­ploy­ment?

Old peo­ple. And folks who like to eat out.

New fig­ures Thurs­day show the state’s sea­son­ally ad­justed job­less rate for Au­gust ticked down a tenth of a point to 5.0 per­cent. It has hov­ered in that area there for about a year.

Mean­while the na­tional un­em­ploy­ment rate went up the same amount, to 4.4 per­cent.

The strong­est gains in the state came among bars and restau­rants which has added 13,500 work­ers in the past year. That’s a 6.2 per­cent gain, com­pared to a rel­a­tively ane­mic 1.4 per­cent year-over-year in­crease in over­all pri­vate sec­tor em­ploy­ment.

Health care came in a dis­tant sec­ond with a 3.4 per­cent in­crease in over­all em­ploy­ment in the past 12 months. But Doug Walls, re­search ad­min­is­tra­tor for the state Of­fice of Eco­nomic Op­por­tu­nity pointed out that Ari­zona con­tin­ues to do far bet­ter than the rest of the na­tion, with just a 1.2 per­cent em­ploy­ment gain in health care over the same pe­riod.

And he said the longer-term prog­no­sis is promis­ing.

What’s driv­ing that, he said, are de­mo­graph­ics.

In 2015 15.6 per­cent of Ari­zona res­i­dents were 65 or older. He fig­ures that will reach 19.8 per­cent by 2027.

Con­versely, the per­cent­age of Ari­zo­nans younger than 18 will slide from 24.4 per­cent to 22.2 per­cent over the same pe­riod, with a sim­i­lar de­cline among those in be­tween.

What makes that im­por­tant, Walls said, is that old peo­ple spend more on health care. A lot more.

The most re­cent fig­ures show that Medi­care spend­ing by Ari­zo­nans on a per capita ba­sis — in­clud­ing everyone in the state -- is $10,096 a year. By con­trast, the same fig­ure for pri­vate in­sur­ance, the kind of cov­er­age for most peo­ple younger than 65, is just $4,035.

All that spend­ing sup­ports more than 307,000 jobs in health care in Ari­zona, mean­ing one out of ev­ery seven peo­ple work­ing in the pri­vate sec­tor.

“So as we see the pop­u­la­tion age and that share of the in­di­vid­u­als 65 and older in­creas­ing, the de­mand for health ser­vices and med­i­cal ser­vices should also in­crease,’’ Walls said.

By con­trast, the state’s re­tail sec­tor con­tin­ues to lose ground, shed­ding an­other 500 jobs in Au­gust and bring­ing the year-overyear drop to 900. Walls said this, too, re­flects a shift, though not in de­mo­graph­ics.

“The re­tail in­dus­try tends to be shift­ing as more and more con­sumers are look­ing for ecom­merce re­sources to meet the needs of their con­sump­tion,’’ he said.

This isn’t just an Ari­zona phe-

nomenon. Walls said on­line com­merce na­tion­ally was just 3.5 per­cent of to­tal sales na­tion­ally in 2008; by this year it rose to 9 per­cent.

Else­where in the econ­omy, man­u­fac­tur­ing posted a 2.8 per­cent in­crease in over­all em­ploy­ment in the past year de­spite a con­tin­ued de­cline among com­pa­nies man­u­fac­tur­ing com­put­ers, chips and other elec­tronic parts. There are now 1,700 fewer peo­ple work­ing at those firms than a year ago, a 5.5 per­cent drop.

Con­struc­tion jobs are up slightly, by 1,000, but still 57 per­cent less than when em­ploy­ment hit its peak just be­fore the burst of the real es­tate bub­ble and the re­ces­sion.

Yuma County’s typ­i­cally atypical un­em­ploy­ment rate stayed level in Au­gust at 23.9 per­cent, a tenth of a point higher than the rate ini­tially re­ported for July, and a tenth of a point lower than the re­vised one re­leased Thurs­day, 24 per­cent.

The sep­a­rate non­farm pay­roll re­port found em­ploy­ers added 800 jobs in the county for Au­gust, for a to­tal that’s 1.5 per­cent higher than last month, with gov­ern­ment the only sec­tor re­port­ing a net in­crease.

Pa­trick Goetz, busi­ness ser­vices of­fi­cer for Yuma County’s Ari­zona@Work of­fices, said they saw 224 job post­ings in Au­gust, a jump of 78 over last month. He said a lot of the in­crease Trax In­ter­na­tional, a de­fense con­trac­tor which pro­vides var­i­ous tech­ni­cal sup­port ser­vices at Yuma Proving Ground.

He said Trax is look­ing to hire 130 peo­ple, and has a hir­ing event sched­uled for 9 a.m. to 6 p.m Sept. 29 at SpringHill Suites, 1825 E. 18th St., Yuma.

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