The state’s job growth may be slow. But, Arizona Public Radio’s Howard Fischer reports that a new report shows that is not stopping the folks who do have jobs from spending money.
Figures from the state Department of Revenue show retail sales in May hit nearly $4.6 billion, up 7.6 percent from the same time a year earlier. Arizona State University economist Dennis Hoffman said some people apparently have the wherewithal to buy durable goods like cars and furniture and fixtures.
“It’s continued signs that the Arizona consumer is doing their part, really, especially in light of the fact that employment growth is so slow,” he said.
The state actually lost 800 private sector jobs between April and May. And it added fewer than 43,000 jobs from the same time a year earlier. So why all the new spending? Hoffman said one factor is low interest rates: People who have access to credit spend money on things they think will pay off, like new energy-efficient windows. And, he said a similar factor — spend now to save later — is driving new-car sales.
“You know, you can pick up a new car and save quite a bit off the monthly bill in gas savings now. It really is amazing how that fuel efficiency meter has come up. Even if you’re buying an intermediate or a midsize, you can still save a lot of money on gas,”
But, retail sales still are far below where they were at the same time of year in 2007.