Arizona Job Growth Lags U.S. in December

January 24, 2017

The Arizona employment report released January 19 indicated that job growth in the state was 1.2% for December. This was the second month in a row – the only two months out of the year – that over-the-year job growth in Arizona did not exceed that of the U.S. Prescott had the highest over-the-year growth rate in the state for December with 5.0%. Other metros in Arizona had growth rates a bit lower than that: 1.4% in Phoenix, 0.8% in Flagstaff, 0.4% in Tucson, 0.3% in Sierra Vista-Douglas, -0.5% in Yuma, and -0.6%% in Lake Havasu City-Kingman. Industries growing the most over the last year in Arizona were education and health services followed by leisure and hospitality. Government, natural resources and mining, manufacturing, information, and other services all lost jobs over the last 12 months.  The unemployment rate for the state was 4.8% in December, slightly above the U.S. rate of 4.7%.

There were 4,551 initial unemployment claims in Arizona the week ending January 7. The four-week moving average was 3,687, which has remained under 4,000 for the last two months. Continued claims for Arizona were 6.4% lower than the same time a year ago. Nationally, filings for unemployment benefits dropped 15,000 to a seasonally adjusted 234,000 for the week ending January 14. The four-week average decreased to 246,750 –its lowest level since November 1973.  

The Consumer Price Index increased 0.3% in December on a seasonally adjusted basis, with shelter and gasoline prices being the main reason for the rise in the overall index. The annual inflation rate rose 2.1% in December. This is the first time since mid-2014 that the inflation rate reached two percent.

Producer prices rose 0.3%, seasonally adjusted, in December. Final demand goods rose 0.7% while final demand services increased just 0.1%. The change in producer prices over 12 months was 1.6%, unadjusted. 

The U.S. added 156,000 nonfarm payroll jobs in December. The December Employment Situation report indicated that health care and social assistance was the sector with the most job gains. The unemployment rate for the nation was 4.7%.  

The U.S. trade deficit increased in November to $45.2 billion, up $2.9 billion from October. Exports decreased $0.4 billion over the month while imports increased $2.4 billion. Year-to-date the deficit was down 1.1% from the same period in 2015.

Bankruptcies in Arizona were down 10.2% in 2016 compared to 2015, the sixth straight year of decreasing bankruptcy filings for Arizona. Chapter 7 (business or individual liquidation) declined 12.6% in 2016, while Chapter 11 (business reorganization) declined by 39.5%. Chapter 13 (individual debt adjustment) increased by 7.3%, the first time since 2010 with an annual increase in Chapter 13 filings. The Phoenix office, handling Apache, Coconino, Gila, Maricopa, Navajo, and Yavapai counties, decreased the most in overall bankruptcies from one year to the next with a drop of 12.0%.

The Tucson office (Cochise, Graham, Greenlee, Pima, Pinal, and Santa Cruz) was down 5.7% and the Yuma office (La Paz, Mohave, and Yuma) decreased 3.2%. The only county to have a larger number of bankruptcies filed in 2016 than the previous year was Yuma by just three filings.