Arizona nears full recovery of jobs lost in pandemic, but state is not there yet
Arizona's employment totals continue to rebound from the COVID-19 outbreak, with Gov. Doug Ducey on Thursday proclaiming that all private-sector jobs were recovered.
But that's not the whole picture. The state's job totals including government positions still haven't rebounded fully from before the pandemic emerged as a serious health threat, necessitating the lockdown of broad sectors of the economy.
Also, Arizona's unemployment rate remains well above where it was early last year — and it's above the current national jobless figure.
Still, Ducey's office trumpeted the latest report from the state Office of Economic Opportunity as a further sign of momentum.
"Less than a year and a half after the initial economic disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic, Arizona has already recovered more than 100% of private-sector jobs, representing one of the fastest jobs recoveries in the nation," the Governor's Office said.
Arizona is not quite there yet
But when government jobs are included in the total, Arizona remains a bit short, with 97% of jobs recovered.
And while the state's unemployment rate in August dipped to 6.2% from August from 6.6% in July, it's still above comparable figures in the high-4% range in early 2020.
It's also above the U.S. jobless rate of 5.2% for August 2021.
More Arizona job seekers in the labor force today compared to early 2020 help to explain why the unemployment rate hasn't improved as much as the number of jobs lost.
Still-idle job seekers include people moving to Arizona and more-established residents who have been encouraged to look for work amid plentiful openings. Plus, many people have quit jobs lately, taking time off with the expectation of finding other work soon.
Payroll positions still lagging
The figure of 97% of jobs recovered since the pandemic refers to nonfarm payroll positions. Nationally, about 76% of such jobs have been recovered.
George Hammond, an economist at the University of Arizona in Tucson, said he focuses on nonfarm payroll employment, partly because it is based on a more reliable survey than that for total employment, which is subject to frequent revisions. Many other economists take a similar view.
In terms of total employment that's subject to revision, Arizona had 3.44 million employed individuals in August — slightly above the pre-pandemic highs of 3.41 million in January and February of last year.
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