Arizona's unemployment rate now at seven percent

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Twice a week, Robert White makes his way to the Department of Economic Security in Tucson.

"I'm looking for a job, using the job service facilities," White said.

He's a handyman by trade, but he's been looking for work since August.

James Snyder finds himself in a similar predicament.

"I've been out of work for about six months, doing like day labor and things like that, but I mean it's just not enough to pay the bills," Snyder said.

Both men factor into the more than 155,400 people who lost their jobs in Arizona in the past year. That puts unemployment at 7% -- a number officials with the state call unprecedented.

"Something of this magnitude hasn't occurred in a long time," said Dennis Doby, senior director of research administration for the Arizona Department of Commerce. "The 155,400 is the largest over-the-year numeric loss that we've seen."

The news doesn't come as much of a surprise to Snyder.

"There really ain't nothing here for work," he said. Especially for painting. And construction is just dropping."

Construction suffered the largest number of job losses. That sector lost 9,800 jobs last month alone.

Temp agencies and retail were the other sectors hit hardest.

Yet the Department of Commerce says there's reason to be optimistic.

"Our feeling is that we're going to hit bottom here soon, and the rate of loss will begin to slow," Doby said.

In fact, he hopes to see positive numbers by next year, which is great news for the unemployed.

"I can't give up," Snyder said while holding his one year old baby boy. "I've got him to think about. You know, we can't give up."< /p>

"Yeah I always have hope," White said.

Officials with the Arizona Department of Commerce say that although the state's 11 major industry groups reported job losses, Arizona's unemployment rate is still below the national average of 7.6%