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Data projects Arizona on employment rebound, Tucson slowly follows

Data projects Arizona on employment rebound, Tucson slowly follows
Posted at 7:01 PM, Dec 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-10 21:01:54-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Data from the Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity shows that Arizona is on the rebound.

“Overall Arizona’s employment recovery has been among the fastest in the nation,” said Doug Walls, the Labor Market Information Director at the Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity.

There are now nearly 60,000 more people in the state’s workforce than in February 2020.

“Here in Arizona we surpassed pre-pandemic levels and continue to add individuals into the labor force," Walls said. "At the national level, their labor force is down 3 million people overall.”

State employment numbers are still lower than what they were pre-pandemic. But the Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity projects those will significantly improve over the next decade.

“The growth has been positive, it's been consistent, and it's been faster than most anticipated,” Walls said.

Dr. George Hammond at the University of Arizona says Tucson is seeing slower growth than the state.

"Tucson’s really only recovered about 78% of the jobs lost during the first two months of the pandemic," said Dr. Hammond, the Director of the Economic and Business Research Center. "Down here in the southern part of the state we still have a long way to go.”

Hammond says this might be because Tucson has more people aged 65 or older that are hesitant to return to work during the pandemic. The city also has a more leisure and hospitality jobs than most of the state.

“Tucson is recovering slower than certainly Phoenix is," Hammond said. "We’re seeing that slow recovery across government and leisure and hospitality jobs.”

Hammond predicts despite its slower growth, Tucson will fully recover its jobs by next year.