Jun 17, 2022 - Business

Arizona unemployment remains historically low

Data: Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity. Chart: Thomas Oide/Axios

Unemployment held steady at its historic rate while Arizona added people to the labor market for the 23rd consecutive month.

  • The biggest job gains came in the leisure and hospitality industry, according to the latest monthly employment report from the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO).

By the numbers: 12,691 people joined Arizona's labor force in May, an increase of 0.04%.

  • Arizona's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remained at 3.2% from April to May, the lowest rate on record since the current methodology went into use in 1976.
  • The state's unemployment rate was slightly better than the national mark of 3.6%.

What they're saying: "It's a relatively strong number but not a number that Arizona hasn't seen in the past," said Doug Walls, who compiled the report for the OEO. "Arizona has historically had one of the fastest labor force growth rates in the country, so we're kind of continuing to see that in the first few months of 2022."

1-month net change in employment, by sector
Data: Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity. Chart: Skye Witley/Axios

Yes, but: Though Arizona gained 102,900 non-farm jobs over the past year, it saw a net loss of 5,500 from April to May.

  • The biggest drop-off was in government jobs, then in trade, transportation and utilities.
  • The private sector actually gained 1,200 in the past month, with the biggest gains coming in the leisure and hospitality and information sectors.

Between the lines: The main driver of job losses in government was the education sector.

  • Between state and local governments, Arizona saw a decrease of 8,100 K-12 and postsecondary education jobs. But other government sectors gained jobs.
  • Walls says the education job losses were the result of the academic year ending, but most of those people are expected to return to their jobs when the next school year begins.
  • When adjusted for seasonal jobs, including the education sector positions, Arizona saw a net gain of 5,800 jobs, Walls says.
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