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Employment data: Arizonans making more than at this point in 2018

fueled partly by a strong construction sector, average Arizona wages are being driven up by a 12 percent increase in the average salaries being paid by manufacturers. VVN file photo

fueled partly by a strong construction sector, average Arizona wages are being driven up by a 12 percent increase in the average salaries being paid by manufacturers. VVN file photo

PHOENIX -- Arizonans continue to take home more money.

New figures released last week by the state Office of Economic Opportunity show that wages here are 5.4 percent higher now than they were a year earlier.

That compares to a 3.2 percent year-over-year growth for the country as a whole.

Arizona wages still lag behind the rest of the country, with average hourly earnings here at $26.85 versus $28.21 nationally.

But Walls said that 5.4 percent growth translates out to $1.37 an hour for the average worker. And in the past five years, earnings here have increased by 18 percent -- $4.05 an hour -- versus the $3.43 for the rest of the country.

At least part of that is due to the 2016 voter-approved measure raising the state minimum wage from $8.05 an hour to $11 now. Increases at the bottom tend to push up salaries for everyone else above that figure.

And that minimum is set to go to $12 an hour on Jan. 1.

But Walls said average wages also are being driven up by a 12 percent increase in the average salaries being paid by manufacturers.

Some of that, he said, is the increase in the number of higher-paying jobs at companies making computers, electronic parts and in the aerospace and defense industries. And then, Walls said, is the simple issue of supply and demand, saying there is a "pent-up demand for available skills'' at some of these firms.

Meanwhile, Walls said, consumer spending on a per capita basis for 2018 -- the most recent figures available -- was up 4.2 percent.

Walls said there are two basic conclusions from those numbers.

One, he said, is Arizonans feeling "more confident about their current situation.'' Put simply, if people think their jobs are secure -- and maybe there even are wage increasing coming -- they're going to spend more.

The other, he said, is that the employment situation here is so good that people are "finding more opportunities within the Arizona economy.'' That means an ability to find jobs as well as an ability to change jobs and get a pay raise.

Some of that, however, is getting eaten up with inflation.

For the Phoenix metro area, the only data for Arizona, the consumer price index is up 2.5 percent, versus 1.7 percent nationally.

The findings come as employers reported they added 34,200 workers last month, all but 1,700 of that in the private sector. And overall employment at private companies is up by 71,400 from a year ago.

That was good enough to drop the state's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate a tenth of a point, to 4.7 percent.

It continues to remain higher than the rest of the country with a 3.5 percent jobless rate. But Walls said at least part of that is based on the fact that the number of people in Arizona in the workforce -- both employed as well as those looking for jobs -- is rising three times as fast here as the rest of the country.

On Twitter: @azcapmedia

Unemployment rates

Not seasonally adjusted, unless otherwise stated)

Area / November 2019 / October 2019 / November 2018

Arizona (seas adj) / 4.7% / 4.8% / 4.9%

Arizona / 4.3% / 4.3% / 4.7%

U.S. (seas adj) / 3.5% / 3.6% / 3.7%

Counties

Apache / 8.9% / 8.9% / 9.7%

Cochise / 5.3% / 5.1% / 5.6%

Coconino / 4.8% / 4.7% / 5.3%

Gila / 5.5% / 5.0% / 5.8%

Graham / 4.2% / 4.1% / 5.0%

Greenlee / 3.8% / 3.7% / 4.1%

La Paz / 5.1% / 5.0% / 5.9%

Maricopa / 3.7% / 3.7% / 4.1%

Mohave / 5.3% / 5.2% / 5.8%

Navajo / 6.6% / 6.4% / 7.4%

Pima / 4.1% / 4.1% / 4.5%

Pinal / 4.7% / 4.5% / 5.0%

Santa Cruz / 8.0% / 9.5% / 8.8%

Yavapai / 4.2% / 4.0% / 4.5%

Yuma / 15.4% / 16.1% / 15.6%

Source: Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity

Employment (in 1,000s)

Sector / November 2019 / Change in last month / Change in last year

Total nonfarm / 3,008.2 / 34.2 / 71.7

Private sector / 2,577.4 / 32.5 / 71.4

Manufacturing / 179.9 / 0.0 / 6.5

Natural resources & mining / 13.9 / 0.1 / 0.4

Construction / 178.0 / 0.1 / 11.4

Trade, transportation, utilities / 568.1 / 18.3 / 13.5

Information / 47.2 / 0.0 / (-0.5)

Financial activities / 225.8 / (-0.1) / 4.1

Professional & business services / 453.9 / 7.7 / 7.5

Private education & health services / 477.4 / 6.1 / 18.5

Leisure & hospitality / 334.4 / (-0.5) / 5.7

Other services / 98.8 / 0.8 / 4.3

Government (including public education) / 430.8 / 1.7 / 0.3

Source: Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity

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