Arizona Unemployment Rate Lowest in 10 Years

November 17, 2017
Valorie Hanni Rice Senior Specialist, Business Information

Arizona was one of 12 states with lower unemployment rates in October according to the November 17 Bureau of Labor Statistics state-level employment report. Arizona’s 4.5% unemployment rate for October was the lowest it has been since December 2007. Several states had all-time low rates for the data series that began in 1976. Those were Alabama (3.6%), Hawaii (2.2%) and Texas (3.9%). The high and low unemployment rates in October happened outside of the contiguous states. Hawaii had the lowest rate at 2.2% and Alaska the highest at 7.2%.

Personal income increased in all Arizona counties between 2015 and 2016, ranging from 0.5% in Greenlee to 7.0% in La Paz. Local area personal income data were released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis on November 16. Using Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity population estimates, the per capita personal income for Arizona was $40,980 in 2016. [Table - % change for personal income?]

Job growth was 1.2% in Arizona from October to October. This was the slowest over the year growth the state has had since 2011. Arizona’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 4.5% according to the Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity November 16 release. Education and health services replaced leisure and hospitality as the sector with the most year over year growth. The private sector accounted for all job gains, since government lost jobs over the year. Four other industries also lost jobs – natural resources and mining; trade, transportation and utilities; information; and other services. Other services has declined every month in 2017. October employment change for Arizona metros: Sierra Vista 2.6%, Phoenix 1.7%, Lake Havasu City-Kingman 1.4%, Yuma 0.0%, Prescott -0.5%, Flagstaff -0.4%, and Tucson -1.0%.

The Consumer Price Index rose 0.1% in October on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to the November 15 Bureau of Labor Statistics release. The energy index was lower for the month and food was unchanged, so the main factor in the overall increase in prices this time was shelter, which increased 0.3%. The index for all items less food and energy was up 0.2%. Annual inflation rate was 2.0% for October.

Producer prices rose 0.4% in October on a seasonally adjusted basis. Final demand goods rose 0.3% and final demand services were up 0.5%. Producer prices were up 2.8% over the year according to the November 14 Bureau of Labor Statistics release.

Bankruptcies continue to increase in Arizona this year. There were 1,359 filings in October compared to 1,247 the same time last year, an increase of 9.0%. This was the fifth month in a row over the year figures increased. Year-to-date bankruptcies were up 3.4% in Arizona. There is one portion of the state where bankruptcies are declining, however. The Yuma office, which handles filings for Yuma, Mohave, and La Paz counties was down 15.5% for October and down 10.0% year-to-date.

Housing affordability in most Arizona metropolitan areas was better than the U.S. average in the third quarter, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index. Nationally, 58.3% of new and existing homes sold in the third quarter were affordable to those earning the U.S. median income of $68,000. The most affordable metro area in Arizona was Sierra Vista-Douglas, where the share of the homes within the means of families earning local median income was 81.7%. In line after that were Yuma with 77.8%, Tucson 67.9%, Phoenix 65.8%, Lake Havasu City-Kingman 62.3%, Flagstaff 50.7%, and Prescott as the least affordable at 50.0%.