Arizona's unemployment rate shot up another half a point in June, with further job losses still to come.
New figures Thursday from the state Department of Commerce put the seasonally adjusted rate at 8.7 percent. That compares with 8.2 percent for May and 5.5 percent a year earlier.
The jump in the state's two major metropolitan areas was smaller, up just a tenth of a point, with the unemployment rate below the statewide average.
But that was offset by a weak economy in other rural counties.
One surprise was that the construction industry actually posted its first net gain of jobs, reversing a 21-month slide.
Lisa Danka, an assistant deputy director at the agency, said, though, that could just as easily be a blip as an actual signal the situation in that sector of the economy is improving.
"It's important to note that over-the-year employment in construction is still down more than 26 percent," she said. "It's too early just with one month's worth of data to determine if this slight increase in construction indicates just one month's activity or a longer trend."
Overall, the industry has shrank from its 2006 peak by about 100,000 jobs - half of that in the last year alone - to 141,600 in June.
Statewide, the number of people working in June was 49,400 less than May.
Frank Curtis, director of data systems for the Department of Commerce, said more than half of that was due to job losses in education that normally occur this time of year.
But the number of people working in Arizona is still close to 200,000 less than the same time last year - and more than 300,000 down from the beginning of the recession in late 2007.
Economist Cheri Levenson said all indications are that the situation will continue to get worse before it gets better.
"We'll have to see the next couple of months to see if this is indicating that we're at the bottom," she said.
"We're probably not there yet," Levenson continued. "But we're hoping that we're going to start seeing a slowing of the losses. We expect to see some continuing losses."
And Levenson said her agency still believes the jobless rate will top 10 percent, probably sometime next year, before subsiding.
Employment in retail trade continued to shrink, down another 2,300 jobs in June and 28,300 in the last year. That sector is a key indicator of consumer confidence, as people buy less when they're unsure about their financial futures.
That figure included the loss of 200 workers in food and beverage stores. What it does not yet include are the 1,000 employees of Bashas' who will be laid off when the chain closes 10 of its stores later this month.
Employment in the hotel, restaurant and bar segment of the economy shed another 2,300 jobs between May and June. Danka said, though, that decline is less than would be expected at this time of the year.
Still, employment remains weak, down 5,200 from the same time a year earlier.