Arizona’s seasonally adjusted jobless rate ticked up a tenth of a point last month, to 5.0 percent, driven by weaker than normal growth in the private sector.
Companies added 10,300 jobs in August. That compares with an average gain of 15,600 during the past decade at this time of year.
The new numbers increase the difference between what’s happening in Arizona versus the rest of the country, where the unemployment rate for August remained at 3.7 percent.
But Doug Walls, the labor market information director for the state’s Office of Economic Opportunity said the overall economic situation remains good in Arizona, with the number of people in the labor force here up by 2.8 percent in the past year compared to a 1.3 percent increase for the rest of the country.
As has been the pattern now for some time, retail trade remains weak, shedding another 1,100 jobs between July and August. At the same time, though, employment in transportation and warehousing – including the e-commerce firms – is up by 1,900.
Aside from the shift in consumer buying patterns, there may be another factor at work, particularly in the Tucson area: Stepped-up security at ports of entry have increased waiting times to get across the border, discouraging Mexican shoppers from coming to Arizona.
“We are seeing weak retail job growth here in Pima County,’’ said George Hammond, director of the Economic and Business Research Center at the Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona.
Mexican shoppers aside, Hammond said the fact remains that the growth rate in the Phoenix area, where three-fourths of the jobs are located, has historically been faster, driven by a more diverse economy.
The latest monthly report produced few surprises, with growth in most major economic sectors.
One outlier is construction which lost 1,300 jobs between July and August.
That, however, could be a statistical aberration, as the industry has been showing strong and steady growth now for a while. The number of people working in construction is up 9.5 percent from a year ago.
Manufacturing employment is up by another 300 in August, with a 5.4 percent year-over-year increase.
The new report also found that wages in Arizona in the past quarter are up 3.3 percent from the same time a year earlier.