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Employment

Description: 

Employment is perhaps the most commonly used measure of the economy because of its simplicity and timely availability. However, jobs are highly unequal because of wide differences in hourly wages and in the number of hours worked. Thus, indicators measured in dollars, such as earnings or gross product, provide a much better indication of the size and growth of an economy than does employment.

Several measures of employment are available. Most exclude some wage and salary workers as well as all proprietors. The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) is the only source of total employment, including estimates of the number of proprietors as well as the total number of wage and salary workers. Annual estimates are available back to 1969. The annual percent change in total employment, starting in 1970, for the United States, Arizona, and the 15 Arizona counties is presented on Arizona Indicators.

Monthly employment estimates are produced by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), derived from the monthly Current Employment Statistics survey. The data are limited to nonfarm wage and salary employment. Using monthly data, the year-over-year percent changes in employment for Arizona and the United States are displayed on Arizona Indicators for the last five-to-six years. The seasonally adjusted number employed in Arizona also is presented.

Data Source: 

Annual data are from the U. S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. State and national data are reported nine months after the end of a year. County data are released two months later, in November. All of the data can be accessed from http://www.bea.gov/regional/index.htm.

Monthly data are from the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. National data are released a few days after the end of each month: http://www.bls.gov/ces/. State and county data come out around the 20th of each month: http://www.bls.gov/sae/. Produced in cooperation with the Arizona Department of Administration’s Office of Employment and Population Statistics, the state and county data also are available at http://www.workforce.az.gov/current-employment-statistics.aspx.

Data Quality Comments: 

The annual employment figures are estimates. Though most jobs are counted in the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW), which is released about six months after the end of each quarter, proprietors and some wage and salary workers are not counted in the census. No distinction is made between full-time and part-time employment.

The monthly data, which are limited to nonfarm wage and salary jobs, are derived from a survey and are subject to substantial revision. The first revision occurs with the release of the following month’s data. Benchmark revisions to monthly data for each of the two prior years are released around the end of February, based on QCEW data. No distinction is made between full-time and part-time employment. While seasonally adjusted data are provided on Arizona Indicators, significant monthly fluctuations in the unadjusted data preclude the calculation of the month-to-month change. Instead, the emphasis is on comparing one month’s data to the figures for the same month in the prior year.

iconEmployment, Year-Over-Year Percent Change

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Visualization Notes:

The year-over-year percent change in employment typically is considerably higher in Arizona than the national average, as in 2006. Year-over-year wage and salary employment growth peaked in early 2006 at more than 6 percent in Arizona and barely more than 2 percent nationally. After that, the growth rate fell much more in Arizona than nationally. Employment was lower than one year earlier from February 2008 through October 2010 in Arizona and from May 2008 through August 2010 nationally. The year-over-year percent change in employment was lower in Arizona than the national average from December 2007 through July 2011. From June 2012 through May 2013, Arizona’s annual percent increase was about 0.7 percentage points higher than the U.S. average. Since then, Arizona’s growth rate has averaged only marginally higher than the U.S. average. The year-over-year gain through August 2014 was 1.8 percent nationally and 2.1 percent in Arizona. Estimates for most of 2013 and all of 2014 remain subject to revision.

iconEmployment in Arizona, Seasonally Adjusted

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Visualization Notes:

Following substantial employment increases through early 2007, seasonally adjusted wage and salary employment was flat through the rest of 2007 in Arizona. A precipitous decline occurred from the end of 2007 through 2009, with the lowest figure of the economic cycle not occurring until September 2010 at 312,600 (11.6 percent) below the prerecession peak. Since then, employment in Arizona has increased, with a net gain of 195,100 (8.2 percent) over 47 months. However, employment in August 2014 remained 4.4 percent (117,500) lower than the peak of the prior economic cycle 82 months earlier. Only 62 percent of the employment lost during the recession had been made up.

iconEmployment, Percent Change, 2013

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Visualization Notes:

Total employment rose 2.1 percent in Arizona in 2013, a little more than the national average of 1.9 percent. Only Greenlee County had an increase of more than 2.6 percent, coming in at 30.9% due to changes in small population numbers, while employment dropped in Apache and Cochise counties.

iconEmployment, Percent Change

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Visualization Notes:

On average, employment growth needs to be as fast as population growth to keep the unemployment rate from rising. Employment gains are highly cyclical; employment growth typically exceeds population growth during economic expansions, but the percent change typically is less than that of population during recessions. In Arizona, the percent change in employment during economic expansions has dropped over time, a natural result of the considerable increase in the size of the Arizona economy. Employment growth exceeded population growth in Arizona from 2003 through 2007, but employment decreases occurred in each of the next three years while the population continued to rise. In 2011, 2012 and 2013, the percent increases in employment again exceeded those of population.

Employment growth in Arizona typically is much greater than the national average, though the differential is much less during recessions. Employment decreased in Arizona from 2008 through 2010 by more than the national average. From 2011 through 2013, employment growth in Arizona was similar to the national average.

Data Source

Annual data are from the U. S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. State and national data are reported nine months after the end of a year. County data are released two months later, in November. All of the data can be accessed from http://www.bea.gov/regional/index.htm.

Monthly data are from the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. National data are released a few days after the end of each month: http://www.bls.gov/ces/. State and county data come out around the 20th of each month: http://www.bls.gov/sae/. Produced in cooperation with the Arizona Department of Administration’s Office of Employment and Population Statistics, the state and county data also are available at http://www.workforce.az.gov/current-employment-statistics.aspx.