December 2018 President’s Message

by Steven G. Zylstra

Like most people in fall 2009, it was hard not to still feel the effects of the slow recovery after the Great Recession that technically ended in June of that year. A national employment rate that hit 10 percent in October was perhaps the most telling sign of how bad things still were. I had been in my current role not quite three years and had heard more than my share of the bleeding happening in my sector, as well as others that make up our economy.

As they say, time heals all wounds.

Nearly nine years later, a booming U.S. economy has given us plenty of cause to celebrate and forget those rocky times on the earlier business front. September 2018 brought a 3.7-percent national unemployment rate, which was a drop of two-tenths of a point from the previous month. This was the lowest rate since December 1969. The Conference Board estimated that for nearly two-thirds of the U.S. population, this was the lowest unemployment rate in their lifetime.

Close to home, we saw the Arizona jobless rate hit 4.7 percent in September, which was a tenth of a point higher than the level for August. Before you say, “Uh-oh, not again,” one news report using the state Office of Economic Opportunity as its source pointed out the uptick reflected the job creation rate was just matching the number of residents in our state who were entering or re-entering the job market. The real numbers to watch for an economic pulse were related to job creation. During September in Arizona, private-sector employment increased 11,300 while it jumped by 79,000 in the past year.

I can vouch for the job creation as my staff and I constantly hear about technology community members looking for new team members. That’s one reason we’ve begun including job openings in Tech Talk, the monthly newsletter we publish for our membership, as well as our Monday morning Events announcement.

To give you an example of the activity, consider what is happening at information technology companies, which include enterprises involved in such activities as telecommunications and data processing. In Arizona, this sector had 46,800 workers in September 2018, which was 5.2 percent more than September 2017.

Taken by itself, 2,300 more employees may not seem like a lot for an entire state. But consider there are also IT workers employed in other sectors, such as government, education, insurance, banking and health, professional and business services, and manufacturing. All reported year-over-year gains, so you can bet the collective technology workforce has been growing right along with the rest.

Those workers with their sights set on the information technology sector should still have a shot at landing a job. The monthly jobless rate for that group alone was 5.1 percent in September 2017 then plunged to 2.3 percent a year later. Once again, the technology field leads the way.

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