Arizona jobless rate drops in March - East Valley Tribune: Arizona

Arizona jobless rate drops in March

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Posted: Thursday, April 14, 2011 12:49 pm

The state's jobless rate slid a tenth of a point last month, to a seasonally adjusted 9.5 percent. And there may be two words for that.

Oh, Canada!

More than two-thirds of the 9,900 jobs added in March were in the leisure and hospitality industry. And the majority of those are the result of hiring by bars and restaurants.

Aruna Murthy, director of economic analysis for the Arizona Department of Commerce, said the state benefitted from a lot of winter visitors. Much of that, she said, is the result of spring training. But she had a theory on this year's figures.

"This time around we have seen the largest number of winter visitors in the past few years, especially visitors from Canada," Murthy said.

Murthy stressed, though, she was not minimizing the effect of the snowbirds from other colder climes like Minnesota.

The rest of the March job growth was divided among most of the other sectors of the economy.

Construction picked up 2,000 jobs. But Murthy pointed out that lately the numbers go up one month and down the next.

"Construction, compared to 08 and 09, at least is in positive territory," she said. "So if I were to make any sense of these numbers I would say it's about flattening out and bouncing along the bottom."

There was a sharp drop in employment in professional services. But Murthy said that could be a reflection of the fact that people who had been working for temporary help firms, which is part of that category, are now getting regular jobs elsewhere in the economy.

Next month's report should show what the economy is doing now that spring training is over - and the winter visitors are going home.

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