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Department of Commerce Predicts State will Add Over 17,000 Jobs This Year

Phoenix, AZ – The Department of Commerce predicts Arizona will add 17,300 jobs this year. While that's not a lot, it has to be taken in context. Last year the state shed nearly 52,000 jobs. And more than 190,000 jobs were lost the year before that. Aruna Murthy said one area of gains will be in the leisure and hospitality sector of the economy -- restaurants, bars, hotels and entertainment.

(We are observing a weaker dollar. This weak dollar is actually promoting international tourism in the state, which we expect both the domestic and the international tourism to be higher in the next two years.)

Murthy said that weak dollar also helps promote exports, which assists in boosting employment not only in manufacturing but also in wholesale trade and trucking. But Murthy said even with gains this year and next, by the end of 2012 the state will still have 280,000 fewer people working than it did at the peak in 2007. She said Arizonans should not look for those levels for some time to come. One big reason is that much of the job growth at the time was in the construction industry. And that fed on people moving here. But now home values have plummeted and many homeowners owe more than their house is worth.

(You have a house. And you are unable to move here. Now if you're not able to move here, there's a weaker in-migration. And except for the natural births that happen, we don't have population growth.)

Murthy's general optimism about job growth is tempered by other factors that could change things. That includes the rising price of oil: The more people have to spend on gasoline, the less they have for everything else. For Arizona Public Radio this is Howard Fischer.