Arizona unemployment drops but small businesses still struggle to find workers

The Arizona economy experienced an increased labor force and decreased unemployment between November and December 2022, according to a new report from the Office of Economic Opportunity.

While the seasonally adjusted labor force saw an uptick of 0.2%, there was an overall annual increase of 2.8%, which equates to 99,816 people, the report stated.

However, even though unemployment decreased from 4.1% in November to 4% in December, the December figure is higher than the 3.9% unemployment rate Arizona had in December 2021.

The top three sectors for job gains in December were trade, transportation and utilities; professional and business services; and education and health services.

There were 11,200 private sector jobs added in total that month, but the information, manufacturing, construction, government and “other services” sectors all experienced losses. The government saw the most significant loss, with 10,800 jobs lost month over month but had an overall positive of 2,500 jobs year over year.

In the year overall, the office reported a “net gain” of 93,700 jobs, with education and health services leading the way with 32,600 jobs gained.

As many businesses are having luck growing in the state of Arizona, challenges still remain both regionally and nationwide amid inflation and a looming recession.

Chad Heinrich, Arizona State Director of the National Federation of Independent Business, said that labor shortages and regulations are still creating hurdles.

“While the latest report shows an increase in labor force participation, many of our small businesses are still unable to find qualified workers to fill open positions. This uncertainty, on top of rising prices, is devastating to Arizona job creators, who pay an inequitable share of the property tax burden and face a myriad of regulatory challenges,” he said.

“With a recent NFIB survey finding that more than half of small business owners anticipating worsening business conditions in 2023, adopting policies that make it easier, not harder, to do business in Arizona would go a long way in shoring up our state’s economic recovery,” Heinrich added.

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