Data projects Arizona on employment rebound, Tucson falls behind



TUCSON, Arizona (KGUN) – Data from the Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity shows Arizona is on the upswing.

“Overall, the employment recovery in Arizona has been one of the fastest in the country,” said Doug Walls, director of labor market intelligence for the Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity.

Almost 60,000 more people are now employed in the country’s workforce than in February 2020.

“Here in Arizona we have exceeded pre-pandemic levels and continue to add people to the workforce,” Walls said. “At the national level, their total labor force has fallen by 3 million.”

Employment numbers in the state are still lower than they were before the pandemic. But the Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity predicts these will improve significantly over the next decade.

“The growth has been positive, consistent, and faster than most expected,” said Walls.

Dr. George Hammond of the University of Arizona says Tucson is growing slower than the state.

“Tucson really only restored about 78% of the jobs lost in the first two months of the pandemic,” said Dr. Hammond, the director of the Economic and Business Research Center. “We still have a long way to go down here in the south of the state.”

Hammond says this could be because there are more people aged 65 or older in Tucson who are reluctant to return to work during the pandemic. The city also has more recreational and hospitality jobs than most of the state.

“Tucson is recovering more slowly than certainly Phoenix,” said Hammond. “We’re seeing this slow recovery in government and recreational and hospitality jobs.”

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