Economic experts warn jobless numbers for August are misleading

Posted at 8:39 PM, Sep 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-24 00:54:51-04

TUCSON, Ariz. — Arizona’s unemployment rate dropped to near pre-COVID levels in August. Experts say there is reason to be hopeful for a rebound, but the big decline is due mostly to other factors.

The unemployment rate dropped from 10.7% in July to 5.9% in August according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

While some are quick to call it a comeback, experts say the month-to-month unemployment data is volatile and needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Arizona did add thousands of new jobs, but many more people left the workforce.

University of Arizona Economic and Business Research Center Director George Hammond says those people are no longer factored into the unemployment numbers. Many may have left the workforce after giving up looking for work.

“That’s not a great story for the state of the economy. But it's also balanced by the continued growth in employment and jobs although at a slower pace than in May and June,” said Hammond.

Hammond says the job growth is a positive sign. He thinks Arizona's economy is showing gradual improvement, but not the sudden rebound the unemployment numbers seem to imply.