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State jobless rate inches down

The state's jobless rate inched down a bit last month.

The new numbers put the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate at 9 percent. That's down a tenth of a point -- and puts Arizona at the same rate as the rest of the nation. Aruna Murthy of the state Department of Administration said the job growth, while positive, is not spectacular. Of some concern is the fact that the year-over-year growth now is nowhere near as strong as it was when the 2010 figures were compared with 2009. Murthy said it appears that while consumer spending is up -- which should normally lead to employment growth -- companies instead are choosing to work the employees they have longer hours rather than add staff -- or even hire temporary workers.

"People are playing the waiting game in my opinion," Murthy said. "Because till they find the economic indicators are strong enough and businesses feel comfortable in going ahead and hiring, those numbers are not going to go up."

The new report also shows strong growth in hiring at bars and restaurants. Murthy said part of that is related both to tourism and the return of the snow birds. But she also speculated that the improving economic news is convincing people that they can splurge a bit and go out for dinner or drinks. For Arizona Public Radio this is Howard Fischer.