Pinal County’s unemployment dropped more than 1 percent over the last year.
Data released Thursday by the Arizona Department of Administration show January’s jobless rate was 5.6 percent. That number a year ago was 7 percent.
Unemployment was 5.7 percent in December.
In 2015, the lowest jobless rate recorded for the county was in May, and also 5.6 percent. Back then, the labor force was 155,526. In January, there were 160,052 people in the county’s labor force.
Tim Kanavel, manager of Economic Development for Pinal County, said employers are moving to Pinal County, including a new casino in Dudleyville. His department is targeting job sectors that include aerospace and defense, manufacturing, transportation and logistics, natural resources and health services.
“It’s important we have the workforce for the types of businesses we’re bringing in,” he told the Maricopa Chamber of Commerce at its monthly breakfast Thursday.
During 2015, the city of Maricopa’s unemployment fell from 6.0 in January to 5.3 percent in December. Casa Grande saw more dramatic shifts, starting with 6.8 percent and climbing as high as 7.5 percent before dropping to 5.4 – coinciding with the opening of Tractor Supply Company.
The state’s unemployment dropped from 5.9 percent in December to 5.6 percent in January.
Arizona Department of Administration research administrator Doug Walls said the loss of 48,600 jobs was typical in Arizona after the holidays. In the post-recessionary years of 2010-15, he said, “the average job losses in January were 51,300.”
He said the biggest losses were in trade, transportation and utilities, which dropped more than 18,000 jobs. The only job sector posting gains for the month was in financial activities, which picked up 200.
For the year, Walls said, Arizona showed job growth of 3 percent. Nine of 11 jobs sectors showed gains overall. The biggest growth occurred in education and health services with 19,700 jobs.
Professional and businesses services gained 17,300 jobs since last January. Despite the predictable January losses, trade, transportation and utilities picked up 13,900 jobs year-to-year.