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The Prescott Daily Courier | Prescott, Arizona

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5/19/2012 9:53:00 PM
State regaining jobs it lost, but local picture remains mixed
Jason Soifer
The Daily Courier

The strength of the economic turnaround depends on what part of the state you're in.

In Phoenix, a group of economic experts from Arizona State University gave cautiously optimistic views at the annual economic forecast luncheon this past week.

The Economic Club of Phoenix hosted the event, where an estimated 250 people heard Lee McPheters tell them that the jobs recovery is rolling along.

"Things are looking better," he said. "The expectation is that it's just slow, steady improvement."

McPheters, director of the JP Morgan Chase Economic Outlook Center at the W.P. Carey School of Business, said the state's employment peaked in October 2007 and hit the bottom in September 2010, ultimately shedding 314,000 jobs.

About 78,000 of those jobs came back as of March, according to McPheters, whose presentation also shows that Arizona ranks eighth in the nation in job growth.

Based on U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the state gained 47,000 jobs overall in March alone. The healthcare sector added 10,200 jobs, construction saw a spike of 6,500 jobs and the lodging/food service sector saw 8,800 more employees.

But things could sour if the national rebound falters because it could derail economic gains in Arizona, according to McPheters.

"If the national economy slows down, we just don't have any drivers that would protect us from the national business cycle," he said.

Data from the state Office of Employment and Population Statistics show a mixed bag on the employment front here in the county.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in the county fell from 9.2 percent in January to 8.9 percent in March. However, that's partly due to the fact that the labor force fell from 92,208 people in January to 90,988 people in March. That means people might have gone back to school, put their job search on hold or possibly left the area for better job opportunities in bigger metropolitan areas.

McPheters said that a rebound in rural communities like Prescott isn't going to happen overnight.

"It's slow growth. Especially for a place like Prescott," he said. "I think that it would be perhaps within a reasonable two- to three-year time span where residential construction would begin to improve.

"Again, it's unmistakable across the state, construction employment is up and that is very much an aspect of the Arizona economy that if it starts improving, then that really gives us a boost that a lot of other states don't have."

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Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, May 21, 2012
Article comment by: Lyle Sentiss

Be it the local economy going stale, or state unemployment or the federal budget deficit, things will not improve until Mr. Obama is removed from office. Either by failing in re-election or subsequent impeachment in 2014.

The US slide into cultural depravity, social decay, and economic failure began with the Democrats coming to power in DC in 2006. The coup-d-grace of our once prospering country came with the election of Mr. Obama in 2008 when businesses and investors (the evil rich) saw the handwriting on the wall in large print. Thus they decided to sit out this period of Marxism and upheaval to protect themselves.

That is called wisdom, but misery comes with it.

Our misery will hopefully end in 2012.

Posted: Monday, May 21, 2012
Article comment by: What industry would like to take advantage of Prescott's

lack of resources, poorly-educated work force, inadequate communications, lack of access to shipping or even a handy interstate, high taxes, etc.?

Maybe y'all ought to git while the gitt'ns good?

Posted: Sunday, May 20, 2012
Article comment by: @ Tom Steele

I agree completely with your point about more construction placing additional demand on our limited water supply. I'm with you on the benefits of attracting industry, too. My concern is that industry taps that same water supply. It's a conundrum, and makes this area's economic future appear less than hopeful to me.

Posted: Sunday, May 20, 2012
Article comment by: Tom Steele

We cannot afford a full return of the construction community. We are out of water for growth and every three new homes require a "NEW" acre foot of water forever. The state legislature needs to have the strength to think and act beyond the pressure of the large ranchers and developers and provide incentives to encourage industry to locate here. As it is now, Colorado and Texas ARE much more attractive than Arizona. With California collapsing we have an opportune time to be making changes in tax codes to bring new life sustainable good paying companies here. Will the legislature do it?

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