Pinal County’s unemployment rate drops for 5th month in a row

According to data from Arizona Labor Statistics, Pinal County’s unemployment rate for October is listed at 7 percent. This is the fifth straight month the county has seen a drop in its unemployment rate, according to a press release. The state of Arizona’s unemployment rate for the same month is at 6.6 percent.

“This is certainly welcome news,” Pinal County Board of Supervisors Chairman Anthony Smith said in the release. “It shows that our recent efforts in the area of economic development are beginning to pay dividends.”

The latest workforce survey showed that Pinal County has 142,000 residents eligible to be part of the labor force. The report from the state highlighted that 133,368 were employed in the month of October.

Pinal County Economic Development Director Tim Kanavel said that the October numbers are significant due to the fact that seasonal workers were not counted in the statistics.

“Seasonal workers that department stores usually hire will skew the numbers a bit,” Mr. Kanavel said in the release. “This latest report shows us true numbers for the county. In 2014, Pinal County has gone from a high of 8.3 percent to a low of 7 percent. This shows us that there is still room for employment and growth.”

Mr. Kanavel said some economists look at a baseline unemployment rate of 5 percent as having a full-employment rate, according to the release.

“As they see it,” Mr. Kanavel said, “everyone who wants to be employed is employed.”

Since 2013, the board of supervisors has declared that economic development would take a primary role as the county moves forward. Since that time, county officials have focused their efforts on five employment areas: aerospace/defense, manufacturing, health services, natural/renewable resources along with transportation and logistics, according to the release.

“This move has resonated across the state,” Mr. Smith said. “We are also focusing our efforts on a regional scale. Our recent inclusion into the Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities agency speaks volumes for our current and future success at luring good paying jobs that not only affect Pinal County, but the entire state.”

Mr. Smith is a board member of Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities.

In the past year, the county along with its cities and towns have had the chance to tout successes that helped to move the unemployment numbers lower, according to the release.

“We have seen a lot of movement on behalf of a lot of local companies when it comes to increasing employment,” Mr. Kanavel said. “We have seen a long-time Coolidge business, Stinger Welding, expand their operations. We are also seeing Casa Grande companies like Hexcel, Abbott Labs and Frito-Lay making moves to hire more people. Even our dairy industry is picking up as well.”

Mr. Kanavel said there are more than 6,000 businesses in Pinal County.

“Many of these businesses are still working their way out of the recent recession,” he said. “As we say in economic development: if each business would hire one new person, that would be 6,000 new jobs in Pinal County. That would have a great effect on our unemployment numbers.”

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