PHOENIX (3 On Your Side) -- The Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC) is predicting a full job recovery by the third quarter of this year.

The greater Phoenix area lost 250,000 jobs since the beginning of the pandemic, but to date, has recovered about 80% of those jobs, according to Chris Camacho, the president and CEO of GPEC. Camacho says Phoenix's reasonable cost of living, combined with sunshine are two big factors that keep families in the area and lure new businesses.

"I do think there’s a lot of hope in 2021," Camacho told 3 On Your Side. "Certainly the spike in COVID cases here in Arizona and nationally is something of concern. As we see vaccinations become more readily available and we can inoculate more of the public, I do believe the economy is going to come back and surge and we will be one of those places that recovers more quickly than elsewhere across the country."

By the end of 2021, GPEC is projecting this area could outpace 2019 employment numbers. Despite the optimism about the growth, there are challenges the local business community will have to overcome.

"Competition is fierce and there are places like Austin, Denver, Dallas, and now Houston and even Boise, Idaho, for example. These markets are upping their game," Camacho said. "Whether it’s tax policies or economic development approaches or branding, they are doing all the above to ensure they capture better market share."

According to GPEC, one of the keys to compete will be continued investments in education, both K through 12 and at universities.


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