Construction employment in Arizona was back on the map in November.
Doug Walls, research administrator for the Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity, said the increase of 1,000 jobs was “an atypical change for November.” Many of those new jobs, he said, were in specialty trades and heavy or civil engineering.
Over the year, construction employment has improved 6.2 percent, a gain of 8,300 jobs and the largest growth rate among all job sectors. In Pinal County, construction employment reached a new high point for 2017 in November.
Statewide, building permits for new single-family homes are back to pre-recession levels. Maricopa’s home-building permits for November totaled 98, the highest November total since the depths of the recession. In November 2014, the total was as low as six.
The construction employment numbers in Arizona also benefited from highway construction projects.
Overall, the state’s unemployment rate dropped from 4.5 percent in October to 4.3 percent in November. Pinal County’s unemployment went the opposite direction, increasing from 4.3 to 4.4 percent. Nationwide, the unemployment rate stayed at 4.1 percent.
Pinal’s workforce increased by 1,100 in November while the number of employed increased by just 993 people.
Service-providing industries continue to be the biggest employers in the state, employing 2.5 million. The state’s total labor force is 3.2 million.
Arizona netted 29,500 new jobs during the month. Most of the state’s job growth was in the Valley of the Sun. Tucson and Flagstaff, on the other hand, posted concerning numbers. Tucson had employment shrinking in seven of 10 sectors over the year. More immediately, over the month of November, Flagstaff saw all its sectors lose employment.
Walls said the state office is “not able to see the details” of the cause.
Employment in the sector of trade, transportation and utilities rose 2.9 percent during the month, the biggest percentage gain during the 30 days. The area with the next largest growth rate was professional and business services at 4.7 percent.
The information sector was flat during the month and saw a 12-month loss of 5.6 percent. Walls said the state was seeing job losses in data processing all year.