The latest jobs report shows that 431,000 jobs were added in March. This marks the 11th consecutive month of growth over 400,000 jobs. The report represents a slight miss as analysts were projecting around 490,000 jobs would be added. Despite the slight miss, the nation’s unemployment rate dropped to 3.6% which brings it in line with pre-pandemic levels.
How does Arizona fit in?
ABC 15 spoke one-on-one with White House Deputy Press Secretary Chris Meagher. He told us that the American Rescue Plan from 2021 was a big driver for the employment recovery. They may have a point for much of the country, but data for Arizona shows that employment recovery as long underway before the act passed in March 2021. In fact, Arizona reached pre-pandemic employment numbers just a month later.
Arizona’s earlier job recovery comes into focus when compared with other states.
Arizona added 126,800 jobs between February 2021 and February 2022 which ranks 16th.
Nevada is at the top of the list at over 10% year over year growth, but the state’s job recovery started later than Arizona and has progressed slower.
Employment in Arizona has grown 3.1% since it reached pre-pandemic levels in April of last year.
Nevada by contrast attained pre-pandemic employment in June 2021 and has grown 1.3% since then.
California has yet to reach pre-pandemic employment and the state’s year over year employment grew by 6.8% putting them in fourth place.
Inflation rate exceeding wage growth
One trend that that requires attention is the comparison between the rate of inflation and wage growth. Since March of last year the inflation rate has outpaced wage growth. This past month inflation rose to 7.9% while wages were up 5.6%. This means that those that are getting jobs ultimately have less to spend.
Local economist Jim Rounds believes that while this is concerning, it may just be the economy coming back into balance.
“Because inflation is high and wage growth is going to be limited, you’re going to see more people come back into the labor market. Eventually economics kind of works everything out by itself.” Rounds said.
National job numbers are typically released on the first day of the month. State level numbers are updated at the same time but always lag a month.