Pamela Powers Hannley, a progressive voice for Arizona
In Spetember 2011, unemployment decreased in 75% of US cities — including Tucson– according to recent statistics released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
From CBS Money Watch…
The Labor Department said Wednesday [Nov. 2, 2011] that unemployment rates fell in 280 large metro areas from August to September. They rose in 61 and were unchanged in 31. That’s the largest number of cities to see a decline since April.
Nationwide, employers added a net 103,000 jobs in September. And the [nationwide] unemployment rate was 9.1 percent for the third straight month. The job gains were only about enough to keep up with population growth. The economy needs to generate at least twice September’s total to reduce the unemployment rate.
According to the Labor report, Tucson’s unemployment rate was 8.0% in September 2011 (down from 8.9% in September 2010). The Labor report also shows that– compared to a year ago– Tucson’s workforce is shrinking (492,600 vs 489,600) along with the number (44,000 vs 39,000) and percentage of unemployed (8.9% vs 8.0%).
Nationwide, Tucson doesn’t have the highest unemployment rate (29.6% in El Centro, Calif., followed closely by Yuma at 27%) or the lowest unemployment rate (Bismark, ND at 2.5%). But if you’re unemployed, it still sucks. (Been there.)
With the local unemployment rate shrinking and the total workforce also shrinking, this begs the question: Are more pepople employed locally or did the unemployment rate go down because people left town or dropped out of the workforce?
A recent article in the Arizona Daily Star gives us a hint: One in eight apartments or homes in Pima County is vacant. In 2000, 9.4% of housing units in the county were vacant, compared with 12% in 2010. From the Star…
While many homes are vacant because the former owners couldn’t afford them and were forced out, the rental market also has been hit hard because many of its low-income occupants left the area in the wake of the housing bust. New residents are also not coming from other states – as they did for decades – because the area’s economy has slowed to a crawl.
When looking at the local economic picture, the poverty rate must also be addressed. Tucson’s poverty rate is 23.4%, compared to 16.5% statewide. According to an article in the Tucson Weekly, Tucson has been “ahead of the poverty curve” for years.
In the recent election, mayoral and City Council candidates talked a lot about job creation and cutting fees for small businesses to jump start the local economy.
Now that the election is over, where do we go from here?
Tonight, November 10, 2011, Progressive Democrats of America Tucson Chapter is hosting a panel discussion focusing on job creation. Among the presenters will be US Rep. Raul Grijalva. Job Creation in Tucson: Building a Sustainable Future will be held at the Hotel Tucson City Center from 7-9 p.m., $5 donation at the door.
Come hear new ideas and join this public discussion. For more information regarding speakers, check out PDA Tucson’s facebook page.