Phoenix Unemployment Drops to 2.4%; Workforce Size Sets New Record

by Eric Jay Toll, PHXNewsroom

Greater Phoenix ended the year with a workforce of nearly 2.3 million, a 5.7 percent year-over-year increase. The seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate for the metropolitan area dropped from 2.8 percent in November to 2.4 percent in December 2021. It was 6.4 percent a year ago.

In Greater Phoenix, 122,700 new workers were hired in the year-over-year comparison with December 2020, according to the monthly Phoenix-Mesa-Chandler metro area employment report from the Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity.

Advanced business services added the most jobs in December 2021, compared to 2020, with new 30,600 jobs. Leisure and hospitality continued ramping up for the peak visitor season, showing the highest percentage gain in year over year numbers with a 15.0 percent increase. Education and healthcare was third on the list, adding 20,500 jobs in year-over-year data.

Manufacturing hiring continued its streak by adding 4,000 jobs in December 2021 compared to 2020. This is the seventh month in a row that the manufacturing sector workforce size outpaced construction, adding 3,900 jobs in the same period. For each of the last 12 months, manufacturing employment topped construction. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the last time the manufacturing sector had more workers than construction was July 2003.

The new hires in Greater Phoenix comprised more than eight of ten new Arizona workers. The state increased its workforce by 148,000 jobs in December 2021 compared to a year earlier, to a total of 3.1 million. Arizona’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was down to 4.1 percent, from 6.8 percent same time last year, coming close to the national rate of 3.9 percent. Seasonally adjusted unemployment rates are not available for metro areas. Across the state, the leisure and hospitality sector had the highest number of new hires, 44,400, over the past year.

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