WASHINGTON – Arizona lost more than 281,000 jobs from 2007 to 2009, and more than 8,800 businesses closed in the same time period, according to the latest Census numbers on county business patterns.
The state had the fifth-highest job loss among states, trailing only California, Ohio, Michigan and Florida, according to the Census Bureau’s County Business Patterns report. And it had the ninth-highest number of shuttered businesses.
Officials said the situation has improved since 2009, but that it’s slow going: The Arizona Office of Employment and Population Statistics said the unemployment rate has dropped from 10.4 percent in November 2009 to 9.1 percent in May 2011.
“We are digging out of a hole here,” said Frank Curtis, director of labor statistics for the state employment office.
At the economic peak in 2007, there were just over 2.4 million workers in Arizona but that number plummeted to 2.1 million by the first quarter of 2009, the Census reported last month.
The construction industry posted the largest job losses, shedding 90,465 jobs or 38 percent of its 2007 total, and seeing 1,340 firms, or 14.2 percent, go under. It was followed by management, administrative support and real estate industries.
David Jones, president of the Arizona Association of Contractors, says that the housing surplus is still looming over the state and residential and commercial surplus rates are still extremely high, driving down business for contractors.
“Our growth has come to a stalemate,” Jones said.
There were some bright spots in the data.
Thousands of jobs and scores of firms were added in healthcare, education services and utilities. There were even small gains in “industries not classified,” defined by the Census as small businesses that do not fit within a certain category. They added 29 jobs, to 231 employees in 2009, and added 34 firms.
Mining was the only category that saw both and increase and a decrease. Almost 9 percent of mining companies closed between 2007 and 2009, but the industry added 845 jobs, an increase of 7.6 percent. Mining observers said it could be attributed to mergers in the industry.
In terms of location, four rural Arizona counties posted the highest-percentage job losses in the state: Greenlee County lost 20.7 percent of its jobs from 2007 to 2009, Yavapai County lost 16 percent, Santa Cruz County suffered a 15.5 percent reduction and Mohave County saw a 14.7 percent cut.
Businesses that do not have a specific location were even harder hit: The report said they lost 41 percent of their jobs. These types of businesses include traveling sales teams and small businesses without offices.
Experts on rural economics say that while the rural areas did not have massive housing surpluses — like the metropolitan areas of the state — they lacked significant job growth and were still hit hard by the economic downturn.
Thomas Combrink, a senior research specialist at the Rural Policy Institute at Northern Arizona University, said the crisis cleaned out the industries like construction and real estate by at least half in some rural areas.
“There you have entire neighborhoods that are fenced off, the development costs were not high, but when gas ran to $4 a gallon people could not afford to get to work,” Combrink said.
He said the saving grace for rural areas was that state and local governments employ over 50 percent of the population.
Contractors say the housing market is still a bust, and they see little progress in new residential or commercial construction on the horizon. But Jones is hopeful that the state will place itself among the forerunners in an economic recovery.
“We have to wait until that engine comes back,” Jones said.
Employment, by county, in the first quarter of 2007 and the first quarter of 2009, the numerical change and the percent change.
Apache: 6,985 jobs in 2007; 7,526 jobs in 2009; +541 jobs; + 7.75 percent
Cochise: 30,134 jobs to 28,407 jobs; -1,727 jobs; -5.73 percent
Coconino: 48,678 jobs to 44,916 jobs; -3,762 jobs; -7.73 percent
Gila: 12,485 jobs to 11,724 jobs; -761 jobs; -6.1 percent
Graham: 9,494 jobs to 10,078 jobs; +584 jobs; +6.15 percent
Greenlee: 688 jobs to 545 jobs; -143 jobs; -20.78 percent
La Paz: 3,836 jobs to 3,438 jobs; -398 jobs; -10.38 percent
Maricopa: 1,654,424 jobs to 1,451,978 jobs; -202,466 jobs; -12.24 percent
Mohave: 49,390 jobs to 42,107 jobs; -7,283 jobs; -14.75 percent
Navajo: 20,328 jobs to 18,493 jobs; -1,835 jobs; -9.03 percent
Pima: 333,430 jobs to 309,243 jobs; -24,187 jobs; -7.25 percent
Pinal: 42,128 jobs to 45,025 jobs; +2,897 jobs; +6.88 percent
Santa Cruz: 12,748 jobs to 10,773 jobs; -1,975 jobs; -15.5 percent
Yavapai: 63,948 jobs to 53,702 jobs; -10,246 jobs; -16.02 percent
Yuma: 44,009 jobs to 42,617 jobs; -1,392 jobs; -3.16 percent
No one county: 71,384 jobs to 41,693 jobs; -29,691 jobs; -41.59 percent
Employment, by industry, in the first quarter of 2007 and the first quarter of 2009, the numerical change and the percent change:
All industries: 2,404,089 jobs in 2007; 2,122,265 jobs in 2009; -281,824 jobs; -11.72 percent
Construction: 237,252 jobs to 146,787 jobs; -90,465 jobs; -38.13 percent
Administrative and support: 268,593 jobs to 203,021 jobs; -65,572 jobs; -24.41 percent
Manufacturing: 172,492 jobs to 145,520 jobs; -26,972 jobs; -15.64 percent
Retail trade: 342,349 jobs to 316,160 jobs; -26,189 jobs;-7.65 percent
Management: 64,371 jobs to 41,639 jobs; -22,732 jobs; -35.31 percent
Professional, scientific, tech: 137,920 jobs to 120,191 jobs; -17,729 jobs; -12.85 percent
Finance and insurance: 145,473 jobs to 131,858 jobs; -13,615 jobs; -9.36 percent
Accomodations, food services: 255,049 jobs to 242,305 jobs; -12,744 jobs; -5 percent
Real estate, rentals: 55,799 jobs to 43,230 jobs; -12,569 jobs; -22.53 percent
Other services: 91,855 jobs to 84,504 jobs; -7,351 jobs; -8 percent
Transportation, warehousing: 84,580 jobs to 78,071 jobs; -6,509 jobs; -7.7 percent
Wholesale trade: 99,104 jobs to 94,376 jobs; -4,728 jobs; -4.77 percent
Arts, entertainment, rec: 47,639 jobs to 45,015 jobs; -2,624 jobs; -5.51 percent
Information: 52,693 jobs to 52,019 jobs; -674 jobs; -1.28 percent
Forestry, fishing, hunting, agric. support: 1,429 jobs to 1,317 jobs; -112 jobs; -7.84 percent
Unclassified industries: 202 jobs to 231 jobs; +29 jobs; +14.36 percent
Mining,quarrying, oil and gas: 11,112 jobs to 11,957 jobs; +854 jobs; +7.6 percent
Educational services: 44,661 jobs to 49,743 jobs; +5,082 jobs; +11.38 percent
Health care, social assistance: 275,846 jobs to 302,595 jobs; +26,749 jobs; +9.7 percent