Phoenix Unemployment Rate Drops to 5.9%; 51,300 Return to Work in August

The greater Phoenix unemployment rate plummeted to 5.9 percent, with 51,300 jobs added during August, according to the Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity. Arizona’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate also hit 5.9 percent for the month, well below the U.S. rate of 8.3 percent.

The metro area now has 2.1 million in the workforce, up from 2.0 million in April, but less than March’s 2.22 million in the workforce. A year ago, there were 2.18 million working in greater Phoenix.

Total jobs in the Valley are still more than 77,000 fewer than a year ago, but a big step towards normal compared to the 164,000 metro area jobs lost in April 2020 compared to a year earlier.

Educational services was up 10.2 percent, adding 5,700 jobs in August over July, and increasing employment in the sector by 5,900 over August 2019. The industry represents the supporting private businesses providing non-teaching services or materials to school districts, colleges and universities. The increase in this sector reflects its pivot to provide support to educational institutions’ transitioning to classroom learning options.

Government hiring increased during August, up 12.7 percent over July, but down 2.3 percent from a year earlier. The increase was caused primarily by the return of faculty and staff to the colleges and universities in greater Phoenix. Hiring in that sector was up 23.1 percent over July.

Reopening hospitality businesses from lodging to food services and drinking places resulted in 4,500 hires for August, though the total workforce is still 33 percent less than August 2019, with 71,500 fewer working this year.

Logistics and retail continued posting returning workforce with 4,800 new hires in August compared to July, and a 7,600 person increase in the workforce compared to August 2019. The biggest increase came in retail store hiring, up 3,100 over July, but still 600 less than last August. In transportation and warehousing, there were 1,500 new hires for the month, which was up 2,600 from last year.

Other major Phoenix job sectors held their own for the month with slight increases or decreases in workforce month-over-month.

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