Economic and job creation reports released to coincide with the start of the new fiscal year July 1 show Arizona on a steady upward path, with our state both outpacing the country in job creation and reducing the unemployment rate to near pre-Great Recession levels.
In the most recent issue of Arizona’s Economy, a publication of the Economic and Business Research Center (EBRC) in the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management, director and research professor George W. Hammond, Ph.D. provides an outstanding analysis of the most recent Arizona-specific economic data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
He says data suggests modest wage and income growth in Arizona in the near-term while nationally, real GDP is expected to grow from 1.6 percent growth in 2016 to 2.6 percent growth by 2018.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics information shows that Arizona added 68,300 net new jobs in 2016. The Phoenix metropolitan statistical area (MSA) added 60,200 jobs last year, which generated 3.1 percent growth. These figures reveal a growing Arizona economy, which is keeping pace with and outperforming some of our competitor states in terms of per capita GDP.
As we compete for people, jobs and companies with California, Texas and mountain region states, our challenge is to keep our state ahead of the curve to create and attract top talent to fill the jobs being produced and to bring innovative companies here by showing our investment in their success.
Our Chamber drives economic development through our collaborative Phoenix Forward initiative, which grows the economy from within. Businesses in our Phoenix Forward sectors including Advanced Business & Financial Services, Bioscience, Health Care and Transportation & Logistics project to add thousands of jobs this year. Our Greater Phoenix Chamber Foundation’s business-led Cybersecurity Workforce Collaborative group is working diligently to fill the more than 6,500 open cybersecurity jobs in the Greater Phoenix region right now. Those numbers expected to grow substantially in the upcoming years.
This flood of open jobs highlights the absolute necessity of investing in both k-12 and higher education as a critical piece of our state’s economic development approach. Earlier this year, Governor Doug Ducey signed a landmark $1 billion investment plan supporting Arizona higher education and signed a budget into law including a permanent teacher pay raise as part of his promise in January to make education his top budget priority this year.
Investing in all levels of education in Arizona is critical in building the workforce of tomorrow by investing in it today.
Efforts to grow our economy and efforts to specifically fill the labor talent pipeline not only are working, but are increasingly important to the Greater Phoenix region. Job creation doesn’t happen by chance, it is driven by the efforts of numerous private and public organizations who assess challenges and craft solutions collaboratively.
The recent data, the news stories and the hard work of economic and workforce development organizations in our state encourages me greatly and shows that our collective efforts are driving our state toward increasing success and prosperity.