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home : latest news : latest news September 30, 2014


8/9/2014 6:04:00 AM
Worker exodus: Unemployment is down, but where are the jobs?
Clyde Bradshaw poses with his crew in North Dakota. Bradshaw worked as a project supervisor for Prescott Valley-based Asphalt Paving and Supply, but when road construction jobs dried up, he had to relocate to the Roughrider State to support his family. (Courtesy photo)
Clyde Bradshaw poses with his crew in North Dakota. Bradshaw worked as a project supervisor for Prescott Valley-based Asphalt Paving and Supply, but when road construction jobs dried up, he had to relocate to the Roughrider State to support his family. (Courtesy photo)
Juan Leyva had to move to Wyoming to find a steady, well-paying job to support his wife Lucy and their children, who remained in Prescott Valley. (Courtesy photo)
Juan Leyva had to move to Wyoming to find a steady, well-paying job to support his wife Lucy and their children, who remained in Prescott Valley. (Courtesy photo)
By the numbers
According to state labor statistics (workforce.az.gov), the unemployment rate in Yavapai County, after dropping to 5.9 percent in April and 6 percent in May, bounced up to 7.1 percent in June.

On the surface, that still seems pretty good, compared to, say, 2009 and 2010, when the unemployment rates ranged from 10.3 to 10.9 percent.

But the dropping unemployment rates of 2014 fail to illustrate another story: The local labor force is shrinking.

In 2007, when the unemployment rate was a scant 3.6 percent, the labor pool was 96,833 adults; only 3,449 of them were out of work - so there were 93,384 jobs in Yavapai County.

Even in June of 2010, with a disheartening 10.8 percent unemployment rate and 10,459 adults in the county out of work, the labor pool was 97,159- meaning 86,700 were working in the county.

In June of 2014, the county labor force had dropped to 91,447, with 6,504 out of work - and only 84,943 jobs in the county.

That means that, even though the unemployment rate was 3.7 percent lower than four years ago, there were 1,757 fewer jobs in June than in 2010.

Even more eye-opening, there were 8,441 fewer jobs in June than seven years ago - a total jobs drop of 9 percent.


Tom Scanlon
The Daily Courier


New York Times July 30 story on the Federal Reserve: "The Fed emphasized its concern about the millions of Americans who still cannot find jobs. While the unemployment rate fell to 6.1 percent in June, 'a range of labor market indicators suggests that there remains significant underutilization of labor resources,' the Fed said ..."

Numbers are like ammunition. In debates, people tend to choose the numbers that fit their "guns," ignoring the numeric ammunition that would be duds - or blow up in their faces.

So it is that there are two ways of looking at unemployment figures.

Those who choose to make optimistic arguments about the local economy can load up on the falling unemployment rate.

And others who want to fire off about a still-limping local economy can grab numbers showing a declining labor pool - suggesting people are having to leave the Prescott area to find livable work.

The Bradshaws of Chino Valley and Leyvas of Prescott Valley can tell you all about leaving home to find work. They are part of a skilled-worker exodus, having fled high-unemployment Arizona to states where livable-wage jobs are plentiful.

Clyde Bradshaw left his house and family in Chino Valley to work in booming North Dakota.

In the Prescott area, he worked as a project supervisor for Prescott Valley-based Asphalt Paving and Supply, got married and started a fast-growing family; he and his wife, Janna, have four children, ages 5 to 9.

Three years ago, in the teeth of the recession, road projects started drying up, and the asphalt flow in Yavapai County slowed to a trickle.

"There just wasn't enough work to support what I needed to make," said Bradshaw, 35. "So I had to pretty much abandon my family."

Though he misses his family, he takes comfort knowing the North Dakota work is seasonal, and he'll be back by December.

And, if he ever gets homesick, he just has to look around.

"I have my whole crew from Arizona with me," Bradshaw said. "A bunch of people from around the Prescott area."

Bradshaw is not alone in leaving here to find work. His crew in North Dakota includes a dozen Prescott area residents, such as Larry Robinson, James Thompson and Kyle Kilduff.

Even more than the steady work in North Dakota, higher pay has lured these workers 1,500 miles away from home. Bradshaw estimated wages are "50 percent more than what we were getting in Arizona." That includes overtime of up to 90 hours a week.

Even working 12- and 14-hour days, Bradshaw was able to enjoy time with his family when they spent six weeks visiting over the summer. This week, they returned to the Prescott area so the kids could get back to school and his wife back to her job.

"It's tough," Bradshaw said, speaking both for himself and the rest of his Yavapai County-to-North Dakota crew. "It's rough on us. You have to go to where the work is."

---

Juan and Lucy Leyva can second that. They have been married for 11 years and have two children, Helen, 9, and Abraham, 7.

The kids don't get to see their father very often these days. And when they do, it's at the end of a 14-hour drive.

Juan is a mechanic by trade, but after moving here from California, found work was sporadic. He finally found steady work - and then, when the recession hit, he was laid off.

After an unsuccessful venture in opening his own repair shop ("Some weeks the work was great, other weeks nothing at all," Lucy said), Juan heard from a friend how much work there was in Wyoming - where the 4 percent unemployment rate is one of the lowest in the country.

Hired as a mechanic for a coal mining company three months ago in Wyoming, Juan has doubled his earnings. He went from sporadic work at $14 per hour to steady, 40-hour weeks at $28 per hour.

"There is work here," said Lucy, back home in Prescott Valley, "but nothing that could pay enough. So he went to Wyoming."

---

Alexandra Wright, director of the Regional Economic Development Center at Yavapai College, knows precisely where those livable-wage job losses here have been.

"The construction industry took a huge hit in 2008 - that's where you're seeing the majority of unemployment," Wright said. "One of the difficulties of rural economics is lack of diversification."

The last few years have been a roller coaster for Mike Fann, owner of Fann Contracting. In terms of number of employees in the Prescott area, Fann Contracting is behind only the colleges, Yavapai Country Regional Medical Center and Sturm and Ruger.

"We peaked out at about 423 employees in 2008, but the recession hit us hard in 2009 and we went all the way down to 106 employees by the end of that year," Fann said.

Things have gotten much better at Fann in the last two years.

"Today, we're at 310 employees," Fann said. "We are currently in hiring mode as we meet the needs of our current workload, which is good."

The exodus of construction workers, particularly those with highly prized skills, now has created something of a vacuum.

"It is indeed difficult to find skilled crafts people at this time," Fann said. "During the recession, many skilled folks left the area to find opportunities elsewhere.

"Additionally, those who didn't want to relocate found it necessary to change vocations, so we have lost some of those folks, too."

Sandy Griffis, executive director of the Yavapai County Contractors Association, has seen the same thing.

"The unemployment (rate) in the construction industry has reached a low," Griffis said. "It has definitely dropped. But that's nothing to clap our hands about.

"The decline I feel is a sign that workers have left the industry. They have moved on to oil and gas-producing states like crazy. They have moved into different sectors like manufacturing and aerospace. (Or) they've retired altogether."

And, as the Prescott area construction industry bounces back, that is making for quite a shortage of plumbers, electricians, tile setters and others with highly valued skills.

"The decline in unemployment is scary," Griffis said, "because more and more skilled people are leaving - and that's exacerbating the labor shortage.

"The construction worker is a vanishing breed."

Gone from the county are the likes of Clyde Bradshaw, off to job-rich places like North Dakota - at 2.7 percent unemployment rate, by far the lowest in the country. By comparison, Arizona's 6.9 unemployment rate is higher than all but nine other states.

"There's so many people hungry in Arizona," Bradshaw said. "It's such a tight market it's hard to make any money."

Forget about falling unemployment rates in the county, say those like Lucy Leyva, thinking of her husband 700 miles away.

"There's jobs here, yes there are," she said, "but they pay very little. So it's hard to make a living."

The Leyvas and Bradshaws hope big projects and livable-wage jobs come back to Yavapai County, so in turn the husbands and fathers can come back to their hometown.

"I would go back to working in Arizona," Bradshaw said, "if there was enough steady work so I could support my family."

Follow Tom Scanlon on Twitter @tomscanlonpress.

Related Stories:
• Tough job market means unemployed need someone in their corner
• Editorial: Job gains info misses the mark


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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, August 13, 2014
Article comment by: felicia robinson

How about a good job for the men and women who are willing to go where they can to support their families. Forget the politics and support the people willing to so what they feel is necessary to make life good for their families. My husband is one of the men mentioned in this article and as much as we muss him and wish he was home we are grateful of the sacrifice he has made taking this job so far from home so that our family can get a head and not just get by!!

Posted: Monday, August 11, 2014
Article comment by: @Common Sense

You're not supposed to "live" on minimum wage. It is designed to give you a start so you can build upon your career by educating and improving yourself to qualify for better jobs. Just because you have a liberal arts degree or whatever doesn't mean you can make $18 an hour cleaning toilets.

Posted: Monday, August 11, 2014
Article comment by: Gary Walden

In response to Mr. Mann's comment. If you like it so much in Prescott to live here, why don't you bring your whole company here and help our unemployed/underemployed workers? Some people cannot even afford to move. Stop bragging and start doing something in our community or move back to the Northwest.

Posted: Monday, August 11, 2014
Article comment by: @ try a little harder - Try Becoming A Real American

" Congress wrote and passed what is termed "Obamacare". The Rep and Dem dweebs you voted into office did this to you."

Delusional much? Nice try at blaming the republicans for oblamo care! This was 100% slammed through by oblamo and his demorat minions. I personally have no use for either party, but lets put blame on those responsible!


Posted: Monday, August 11, 2014
Article comment by: Kilroy Was Wrong

The points that kilroy made are wrong. He wrote "Many of us claimed the track obama was on, would lead to fewer jobs and millions on food stamps and millions invading our country for a freebee as well!", the reality isthere are more jobs in the U. S. than at the time President Obama took office, and illegal immigration is also lower, sorry Kilroy I deal in facts.

Posted: Monday, August 11, 2014
Article comment by: Kilroy .

This was, (is) as predicted!
Many of us claimed the track obama was on, would lead to fewer jobs and millions on food stamps and millions invading our country for a freebee as well!
So, here we are in 2014.
WE TOLD YOU SO!
When you have a weak leader, other countries take advantage!
Vote smarter in 2016 folks!


Posted: Sunday, August 10, 2014
Article comment by: Dale Wilson

This trend started about 35 years ago with Reagan's famous "Trickle Down" theory. Instead income trickled UP for the past 3 decades. While blue/white collar job earnings barely moved the incomes for the upper 1% escalated by about 35%. This is about the same time congress, republican run congress began to offer tax incentives for companies shipping their jobs out of the country. Then they passed laws allowing a multi-billion dollar company to rent a mail box in the Caymen Islands and call it their home office to avoid corporate taxes. Around the same time two related events happened. The advent of private prisons and the passing of Mandatory Minimum sentencing--to be sure the private corporations met their profit projections. And, about the same time they started to militarize the local police departments knowing these assaults on the working class would not go over well. No matter, we have a police force backed by the latest military weapons to keep the peace. As Hunter S. Thompson said: "The art of politics is controlling your environment. Take heart folks, the only way to turn back this assault on working people is to take back your local government. Mobilize at the city council level. Then the county commissioner level. The state government is too well entrenched

Posted: Sunday, August 10, 2014
Article comment by: resham mann

And I forgot, 10 of our most recent hires in the past 4 1/2 years are from Prescott, from Embry Riddle, Yavapai college and laid off or retired from a local Prescott Avionics company.

Our recently hired Prescott people vary in age from 21 years 55, we still realize that even well seasoned experienced older engineers are a excellent workforce.

It also helps to know the local talent and since nobody in Prescott will hire these people, we'll my company has no problem doing it.


Posted: Sunday, August 10, 2014
Article comment by: resham mann

Whine whine whine no jobs, a bunch of baloney.
My company has been hiring 20 software and RF avionics engineers every 2 months now for the last year and now building a 3rd 500 thousand sq foot building.

The only catch is it isn't in Prescott but somewhere in the pacific northwest in a nice little mountain town very similar to Prescott but I still get to keep my Prescott home at the same time.

Stop crying and find the jobs away from Prescott and survive, stay in Prescott and starve.


Posted: Sunday, August 10, 2014
Article comment by: Common Sense

Our minimum wage is so low people who try and live on it get food stamps. How many years has it been since the minimum wage was increased? The greedy rich are making more money than ever. The other 99% of us are making less money with no increases. Real inflation is 5% per year so the average person or family make less real dollars every year.

Posted: Sunday, August 10, 2014
Article comment by: Not Just Arizona

The article reiterates what most of us already know. Of course the unemployment rate will go down if there are fewer people looking. That is the formula.
The comments are interesting though. AZ has sold itself as a retirement mecca for decades. You wonder why big companies don't come here? Why would they? Older folks, many who don't need to work etc.
Ghost towns are all over this country. Pick a state, any state, and I can show you where there is low employment, negative growth and even towns that once were. We as a society go where the money is. Mining, oil and gas, latest tech campus, new manufacturing plant,.. that's where workers go. Always have, always will. Follow the money, save and then retire where you want to.
I don't see any problems with this unless you are unwilling to leave to better yourself in the short run.


Posted: Sunday, August 10, 2014
Article comment by: tom Lyle

Yes people are hungry in arizona and th U.S but the Goverment is not protecting us from all the "children" coming in. What i have seen on tv looks more like adults instead of children. And there goes more of your jobs and our Goverment is moving them around our country in secret and the tax payer in footing the bill. We need real leadership in Washington. Vote them all out and start over and no more then 4 years in office.

Posted: Sunday, August 10, 2014
Article comment by: @Dumb Luck

What do you have against retirees? They aren't giving you competition for a job. Sounds like you're just jealous because they are retired and you aren't. As far as skills go retirees have plenty of skills. I retired from an IT organization, that's Information Technology for the unaware. I could get a job easily but not here. Besides I'm happy being retired. And no, I won't help you with your computer.

Posted: Sunday, August 10, 2014
Article comment by: Ksy L

This is a great article. I'd like to see a lot more of this kind of reporting in the Courier!

Posted: Sunday, August 10, 2014
Article comment by: Steve G

It's funny to hear retirees telling me it's my lack of "skills" that are hindering me. I know men who have dropped out of the labor pool. Period. Too old, too white, too male, and evidently too unskilled. The world has changed.. There are winners and losers. But don't criticize me as though I did anything to cause this and that if I had done anything different I would not be affected. Only fools trust in riches to save them.

Posted: Sunday, August 10, 2014
Article comment by: Tom Babbitt

Yavapai County Supervisors have declared war on the productivity of Arizonans. Excessive taxes on Agricultural land, Unnecessary building codes, overbearing food safety laws, draconian land use practices all lead to a more unproductive and corporate dependant Arizona.

Posted: Sunday, August 10, 2014
Article comment by: Too poortomove

This is all very well but if one has no money to move because they can't get employment then what are they to do? I have applied to every job that I can from fast food to management and nothing in over a year, so how can I move to where the jobs are if I have no money because what little I have pays my minimum bills just so I can look for jobs. All I hear is a bunch of people who most likely have a job and talk all of this number crap but are not in it so they have nothing to lose but their words of none wisdom. Also don't say you know unless you have suffered in my shoes or let alone a homeless family that has to stat in a shelter. Try stopping by one and see what it is like. People have skills but no one will hire them thus they lost everything they had.

Posted: Sunday, August 10, 2014
Article comment by: Michael Deigo

Well DUH people don't get (it)
for years this town has been reaching to become a upper sun city and it will succeed with ----------
city council members that are in office so yes get your service hats on cause its coming.


Posted: Saturday, August 09, 2014
Article comment by: Scotty G.

Zero Republicans voted for the ACA, aka "Obamacare". None. Not one. The employer mandate was delayed once already to protect Democrats that passed it in the middle of the night, and businesses see massive increases in operating costs on the horizon. "Try becoming a real American"? What the heck does that mean?

Posted: Saturday, August 09, 2014
Article comment by: A. Vet

Smoke n' mirrors! People are falling out of the work force so those numbers are not included!

Posted: Saturday, August 09, 2014
Article comment by: I am always amazed at the shallowness and lack of intelligence displayed in these comments.

And the total lack of personal responsibility for the present predicament in which many of you find yourself mired today. You are probably not well educated. Nor do you have any special skills. So your prospects are limited. You probably have no real attributes to offer an employer. And you blame President Obama for your poorly paying job or no job. How silly. Most Prescott jobs are in the $8 to $10 hourly range. Accept this fact or move on to greener pastures. But even if you had a master's degree there are very few jobs in the tri-city area you would consider - you are basically overqualified for this lower middle-class job market. Neither Prescott nor PV nor Chino Valley can offer a single one of the standard attributes that a smart company looks at before committing to a new location. None. So our mayors, councils, city managers and economic development folks are never going to succeed in attracting big, strong, well-paying companies to locate here. We will get more Home Depots, restaurants, Sam's Clubs, and Wal Marts. And that is, alas, an economic certainty.

Posted: Saturday, August 09, 2014
Article comment by: Try Becoming A Real American

@not a rosy picture & others...

How can one be so out of touch with reality? Obamacare has nothing to do with part time employment.

Employers have been hiring "part time" for over 25 years...not wanting to pay benefits.

Place the blame on the source..greedy, health insurance companies/pharmacuetical companies, the richest corporations in the world
ripping off the public for healthcare/prescription drugs.

The American public is easily to scammed uneducated about critical thinking. Comments from readers indicate that skill is lacking.

Do you really not get the fact that Obamacare was not written by the President? Congress wrote and passed what is termed "Obamacare". The Rep and Dem dweebs you voted into office did this to you.

Why is it that none of the Congress is included in the bill of goods that they condemned the general population to have as health care? Everyone in this country, the President, Congress should live with the same healthcare.

Is it so cool that these political giants opted themselves out of the healthcare program...and yet voters are still distracted by the Democrat/Republican ignorance.

Grow up and take this country back...forget about legalizing marijuana...how lame...Put on your big boy and big girl panties and become real Americans


Posted: Saturday, August 09, 2014
Article comment by: @ Ina Donuthole

Look for something less then you would usually do and move up from with in.

I got hired at 70, I have no plans on moving up, happy with part-time work, because I could live on my income.

It's a great way to spend a few hours a day and keep active. Work someplace for a year and look for a job then. It's easier to get a job when you already have a recent work history.

Good luck!!


Posted: Saturday, August 09, 2014
Article comment by: Dumb Luck

This is the new norm for jobs! Like half of you retired clowns with very little real job skills try waking up 40 and see what you can find, anywhere in the country!
You grumbling old f---- made it past the finish line thanks to nothing you have except dumb luck!
The world has changed, business is now the puppet master!


Posted: Saturday, August 09, 2014
Article comment by: Joe Doakes

Answering the question in the article heading is easy: China, India, Mexico, Thailand, Vietnam, the Phillipines, Brazil... My own job (with a large cororation) "went south" (literally) to Mexico at age 60, at the beginning of the "Great Recession". They probably have 3 people down there doing what I used to do, but it looked good on paper and undoubtedly helped the big executives meet their bonus targets. I wonder if they'll ever figure out we don't have enough money to buy their products anymore? Tax revenues are headed down, too. Big corporations and their "bought and paid for" Congress are the heart of the problem. And now they have no limits on how much they can spend to elect the politicians they want.


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