Guest Editorial: Digging Into Jobs

By Recker McDowell —

Arizona added 84,400 jobs over the past 12 months, according to year-end employment numbers.

More than 80,000 of those new jobs were in the private sector. Arizona’s private sector job growth for the year was 2.8 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Only Utah (3.1 percent and Idaho (2.9 percent) posted better job growth.

Arizona continues to attract new residents and businesses, including refugees from California.

A dig into the job figures shows some changes in the overall economy in Arizona and metro Phoenix.

Those trend lines show where jobs are being created and should serve as navigation course for economic developers, land-use planners and most importantly job seekers.

Health care added 18,100 jobs over the last months across Arizona. That is the most of any sector. The likes of HonorHealth, Banner Health and the Mayo Clinic already have big and expanding footprints in metro Phoenix. Biotechnology also continues to grow in Scottsdale and Phoenix.

Transportation and logistics added another 10,500 jobs and indicator of the age of and e-commerce. Amazon has expanded it Valley footprint growing in west Phoenix and Goodyear.

There will also be more last-mile logistics centers being established as e-commerce firms and retailers ramp up delivery services.

On the jobs front, that means more logistics jobs but potentially exacerbating the existing shortage of truck drivers.

Arizona added 12,000 construction jobs the past 12 months. A healthy number for a sector that continues to struggle to find and keep workers.

Job opportunities are plentiful in metro Phoenix, but shortages of construction trades workers and truck drivers will challenge employers.

On the economic development front, cities need to continue to fine tune their business recruitment efforts to match the marketplace.

That includes being innovative and creative with land-use and development strategies, realizing which sectors are growing and that more workers are prone to work in less traditional setting such as co-working spaces.