Arizona job growth was 2.2% over the year in January with education and health services leading the way followed closely by construction. The unemployment rate for Arizona ticked up to 4.8% according to the March 8 Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity release. The January employment report is noteworthy because it includes annual benchmarking revision data. Employment estimates for the state were revised upward for both 2016 and 2017, placing job growth for 2017 at 2.4% compared to the original figure of 1.7%. Tucson MSA job growth was revised up to 1.5% compared to the dismal 0.1% found in the preliminary data.
U.S. total nonfarm employment increased 313,000 in February according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Situation release of March 9. Construction, retail trade, professional and business services, manufacturing, and financial activities all had solid over-the-month growth. The unemployment rate for the U.S. remained at 4.1% for the fifth month in a row.
Employment increased in 283 of the 346 largest counties in the United States between September 2016 and September 2017 according to the third quarter 2017 County Employment and Wages (QCEW) March 8 release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While employment generally increased during this time, wages were down. The U.S. average weekly wage declined 0.6% third quarter to third quarter. Maricopa and Pima counties followed the national lead for employment, increasing 2.6% and 1.1% respectively. Pima, however, bucked the trend in wages, increasing 0.6% for the time period while Maricopa county wages slipped down 1.1%.
Real GDP increased at an annual rate of 2.5% in the fourth quarter 2017 according to the second estimate released on February 28 by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, which was slightly lower than the 2.6% advance estimate. Third quarter 2017 real GDP rose 3.2%.
Phoenix house prices increased 5.6% over the year in December 2017 according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices February 27 release. This was below the 6.3% increase posted for the U.S. and the 20-city composite. Seattle and Las Vegas had the highest change in home prices over the year with 12.7% and 11.1% respectively.
House prices rose in all but one state between the fourth quarter 2016 and fourth quarter 2017. Arizona house prices rose 8.3% during this time period, ranking it 13th out of all states and the District of Columbia (which had the highest appreciation in the country at 14.3%). Mississippi was the state that had negative change in prices. The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Home Price Index released on February 27 indicated that one-year change in appreciation was 6.7% nationally. The release also provides metropolitan area-level house price data using the All-transactions HPI which includes purchase and refinance mortgages (state-level data are for purchase only). Changes in house prices for Arizona metro areas over-the-year were: Flagstaff 11.9%, Lake Havasu City-Kingman 10.3%, Prescott 9.3%, Phoenix 9.1%, Sierra Vista-Douglas 1.2%, Tucson 8.3%, and Yuma 4.7%.