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Arizona's Economic Forecast

A new report released this week shows the state's economy continues to plod along. Arizona Public Radio's Howard Fischer explains.

The state's jobless rate stayed at 7.9% for the third month in a row. The state did add 5,200 jobs. And that does beat the 10-year average. But economist Aruna Murthy of the state Department of Administration noted that average includes the heavy losses during the recession. Looking only at post-recession data, April job growth was less than average. Dragging down the numbers was a decline in the people working in private education. Murthy said that's not a surprise. "As the economy improves," she said, "the enrollment in some of these private schools, private education on-line schools, do go down. And that's what we are finding here."

Put simply, people go back to school to improve their skills when jobs are tight, a process that reverses when more jobs become available. But Murthy said she sees a bright spot on the horizon for the financial services sector. "This particular sector was not doing well," Murthy said. "But the recent history, with a lot of companies deciding to move here, State Farm, Union Bank and others trying to move here, the future of this sector seems to be looking brighter than it was previously."

Overall, employment in the state is 48,000 more than a year earlier.