Arizona unemployment under 8 percent for first time in 4 years - East Valley Tribune: Business

Arizona unemployment under 8 percent for first time in 4 years

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Posted: Thursday, December 20, 2012 2:10 pm | Updated: 4:25 pm, Mon Mar 11, 2013.

Arizona's unemployment rate for last month dipped below 8 percent last month, the first time that's happened in four years.

New figures Thursday from the Arizona Department of Administration show the state added 22,700 jobs in November. That compares with the 10-year average of 16,900 for this time of year.

In fact, the last time Arizona's November year-over-year job growth was this large was in 2005.

All that was enough to drop the state's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate by three-tenths of a point, to 7.8 percent. By comparison, the national jobless rate for November was 7.7 percent.

Arizona's gain includes 11,600 jobs in the retail sector alone.

While retail employment generally picks up this time of year, the jump this time was significant according to Aruna Murthy, the agency's director of economic analysis. There are 6,700 more Arizonans working in retail now than there were a year ago.

Murthy said that hiring portends a good season for retail sales, with the revenues from those further boosting the economy.

But the good news goes beyond just retail.

The state's professional and business services companies added 5,000 workers in November. That brings their employment up by 18,000 from November 2011.

Banks, insurance companies, brokers and real estate firms added 1,700 employees last month, and 5,400 over last year.

In fact, the only sector of the economy to lose jobs in November was construction, which shed 2,800 employees.

But Murthy said even that has to be put into perspective.

She said this industry normally loses about 2,300 jobs this time of the year. And Murthy said even with the somewhat larger losses this year, construction employment is still 6,900 higher than the prior November.

Murthy said there are other positive signs.

She said this is the ninth consecutive month where private sector employment has gone up more than 2 percent from the same time a year earlier. And the overall increase of 59,600 jobs this November compared with 2011 is the biggest figure since February 2007.

Finally, this is the third consecutive month that the state's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate declined.

"That seems to suggest, overall, the economy is improving,'' Murthy said.

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