Arizona 'growing out' of the recession

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Arizona's unemployment rate is stuck at 6 percent. (Source: KPHO/KTVK) Arizona's unemployment rate is stuck at 6 percent. (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
Isabel Alcanter is one of those Arizonans still looking for work. (Source: KPHO/KTVK) Isabel Alcanter is one of those Arizonans still looking for work. (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
The U.S. unemployment rate is now 4.9 percent. (Source: KPHO/KTVK) The U.S. unemployment rate is now 4.9 percent. (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

President Barack Obama announced Friday that Americans are working again.

For the first time in eight years the U.S. unemployment rate dipped below 5 percent to 4.9 percent, according a federal jobs report released last week.

And there was more good news for workers who already have a job.

According to the U.S. Labor Department, Americans saw their wages rise by 2.5 percent.

"Over the past six months, wages have grown at their fastest rate since the crisis. And the policies that I'll push this year are designed to give workers even more leverage to earn raises and promotions," Obama said.

All good news for the country but here in Arizona times are a little tougher.

The state's unemployment rate is stuck at 6 percent, more than a full point below the national average, according to state numbers released late last month.

That number more than doubles to 13.6 percent when looking at the "total unemployment rate."

This statistic considers workers who have stopped looking for a job as well as the underemployed such as those working part-time 

Another discouraging number for the state is the fact Arizona has yet to recover the all jobs it lost during the Great Recession.

Given how hard the state was hit by the economic downturn, economists say there's no reason to panic.

"Finally after six, seven pretty dark years in Arizona it really feels in some sense we are growing out of this," said Dennis Hoffman, a economist with the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.

The unemployment is lower today than is was last year at this time. And for those living in the Phoenix-metro area, one economist says jobs prospects are likely much better than the rest of the state. 

Scottsdale-bases economist Elliott Pollack says the economic outlook for the Valley is much better that the rest of the state.

Tucson's economy, he says, is reliant on the University of Arizona and military spending. Funding for both areas have seen budget cuts from the state and federal government.

And Pollack says the rest of Arizona is heavily reliant on tourism.

"It's Phoenix and the rest of the state is a third-world country," Pollack said.

Copyright 2016 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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