Arizona unemployment rate drops to level when covid-19 pandemic first struck | Kingman Daily Miner

PHOENIX – Arizona’s unemployment rate finally fell last month to where it was when the covid-19 pandemic began.

And the state has recovered almost all of the private sector jobs it lost.

New figures Thursday from the state’s Office of Economic Opportunity put the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate at 5.7%. That’s half a point lower than in August.

That still leaves the unemployment rate here above the national average which fell by four tenths of a point in September to 4.8%.

The state’s new report shows growth in most sectors of the economy. Even sectors that lost jobs in September, such as manufacturing and professional and business services, are still doing better than a year ago.

But there is one notable exception: Stores that sell clothing and accessories continue to lay off workers, with worker levels still 2% lower than a year ago.

Doug Walls, the agency’s labor market analyst, said this was likely due in part to the shift in buying habits that was already happening before the covid-induced slowdown sent people to their computers and phones for shopping rather than going to brick and mortar stores.

But there is also something else: a change in lifestyle.

Simply put, people dressed to go out.

Walls said it starts with going to an office, which means the need to purchase formal or work wear.

And now?

“We know that more and more people are working from home,” he said. And when they buy things, “more people are shopping online.”

Ditto for going out to eat.

While the level of clothing might depend on the type of restaurant, dining out usually required something more than sweatpants and flip flops. Now, with the growing popularity of DoorDash, Grubhub, and Uber Eats, it’s easier than ever to have restaurant food delivered to your doorstep.

And no need to change.

The increasingly healthy economy manifests itself in other ways.

Walls cited what the US Bureau of Labor Statistics calls the “exit rate,” a reflection of the percentage of workers who are employed and who have voluntarily left their jobs.

That figure – currently only available nationally – fell to 1.6% in April 2020 during the first months of the recession. The most recent figure is 2.9%, the highest number recorded by the BLS since the turn of the century.

“A high quit rate is usually a testament to workers’ confidence in their ability to find better employment opportunities elsewhere,” Walls said.

“It’s typical in times of economic expansion to see the dropout rate increase,” he said. “And in times of economic contraction (that’s) where you see the quit rate going down.”

And there is another indicator.

Over the past year, the nationwide average hourly wage increased 4.6% to $ 30.85. This reflects the fact that companies have to pay more to attract and retain workers.

The increase was not as strong in Arizona, with an increase of 2.5%. And that continues to keep wages here below the national average, at $ 28.38.

Overall, the state ultimately recovered 99.6% of the 320,200 private sector jobs lost since the onset of the recession.

Some sectors are doing much better, notably trade and transport, which have recovered 173% of the jobs lost. Many of them are warehouse and delivery workers, all linked to the increase in online sales.

Hotel employment has also experienced a strong recovery. And Walls said there was reason to believe it would get even better.

He cited figures from the Transportation Security Administration on “airport throughput,” the number of passengers ready to board a plane.

That figure fell to just 700,000 at the start of the recession. And while there was a drop last August, Walls said the latest numbers hit 13.5 million, roughly where they were when the downturn hit.

In contrast, the information sector recovered only 13% of the 6,800 jobs lost.

Walls said this industry includes people working in movie theaters. And this may reflect both the dearth of new releases as well as the continued reluctance of people to rush into a theater, especially with so many other options now available online.

About William W.

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