Arizona economy still lagging following recession

Posted: Updated:
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

PHOENIX -- A recent report shows Arizona's economy is lagging behind the rest of the country. And experts say it could take our state a long time to bounce back from the recession, especially in certain sectors.

Pre-recession, Matt Brumett worked as a foreman, framing homes.

“I did it for 12 years, worked on building houses, being the best at what I was. It didn’t matter once recession hit, because it was all about who was willing to take less money,” said Brumett.

Now, Brumett works two jobs, splitting his time between a Phoenix hardware store and apartment maintenance.

“Just to make ends meet because I have four children and a wife and bills,” Brumett.

His sector was one of the very hardest hit seven years ago. Construction is still one of the industries struggling the most, according to state analysis, as well as trade, professional and business services, manufacturing and government.

“It has been a slow, modest recovery,” said Dr. Aruna Murthy, Director of Economic Analysis at the Arizona Office of Employment and Population Statistics. She crunches the numbers each month.

“We have a long ways to go, but having said that, you know our recession in Arizona started three months prior to the recession in the U.S. We started losing jobs earlier. We went way deeper, and so it’s taking much longer to come out of it.”

Sectors that are faring better include Education and Health Services, Financial Activities and Leisure and Hospitality.

“I think one lesson that we learned in this past recession is not to rely on any one given sector and to essentially diversify,” said Dr. Murthy.

Barry Broome, President and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, said, currently, the economy is too dependent on consumer spending. Broome says the economy has been further hurt by defense cuts in Washington.

“You can’t replace semi-conductor plans, aerospace and defense with nail salons and retail stores and service jobs at a hotel. That is not an even trade,” said Broome.

Broome told 3TV Arizona needs to set higher standards and build an infrastructure to support a diverse economy and new technologies.

“We have this very positive business climate that the legislature, the Governor worked on; people building companies here," said Broome. "But when those companies get a little bigger, they’re looking for engineers; they're looking for computer scientists. If schools aren’t producing the human capital for the small businesses that are growing, they'll stop growing in this town.”