Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

February 26, 2009


Host: Ted Simons

Arizona Jobs Report


  • Arizona Department of Commerce economist Dennis Doby talks about the unemployment figures for January.
Guests:
  • Dennis Doby - Economist, Arizona Department of Commerce
Category: Business/Economy

View Transcript
Ted Simons
>> Good evening and welcome to "Horizon." I’m Ted Simons. the Arizona department of commerce is out with new jobless numbers from January for the state. the new unemployment number is 7%, up from 6.6% in December. January saw the largest losses in trade, transportation and utilities. I’ll talk to the economist who releases those numbers for the state, but first, Mike Sauceda tells us about services available for the unemployed.

Mike Sauceda
>> After years of virtual full employment, the layoffs have hit hard in Arizona. Janelle Powell was one of those who recently lost her job and has been out of work for two months. But she is getting help polishing up her interviewing skills and her resume at the Maricopa work force connections Gilbert one stop career center which she says has boosted her confidence.

Janelle Powell
>> when I first stepped in here I said I’m going to go find a job and I’m ok. when I stepped into the first course, I said I better not go an interview , I’m going to make a fool of myself. but now after going through the center's courses and workshops and job fairs, I’ve practiced a lot and they even give you a course on interviewing techniques and I feel more comfortable and more job ready to go out there. if I was called today and had an interview tonight, I would feel more prepared than I was a couple weeks ago.

Mike Sauceda
>> Patrick Burkhart works in work force development for Maricopa county he talks about what the center has to offer.

Patrick Burkhart
>> helping individual, job seekers understand what their aptitudes are. these are all free services by the way. federal dollars pay for these services. help people understand what their skills are and interests are and where they're best suited to compete.

Patrick Burkhart
>> there really are two levels of training that we offer training in the centers themselves and offer things such as resume reviews and how to prepare the resume and how to apply online. and how to understand the job market. those kinds of soft skill training we do right here on-site. we also have training dollars available and we'll have much more in that regard when the stimulus money comes to Arizona. to actually support people to go to community colleges for certificate programs or to private providers for specific training skills or to enroll in apprenticeship programs. those are the kinds of technical skills, job skills, workforce skill opportunities that we offer.

Mike Sauceda
>> Burkhart says if you think you're going to get laid off, get ready.



Patrick Burkhart
>> people should realize they need a plan in advance if they're suspecting or fearful they may be losing their positions. we want to begin to work with them as soon as possible and they should come here to the career center even before they're laid off so that they have a plan in place. so they're not waiting until the last minute. not waiting until the pink slip arrives but they're searching for new positions knowing that their position is vulnerable.

Mike Sauceda
>> Burkhart says the number of clients have gone up. The Gilbert center is seeing up to 1,000 people a day. The number for unemployment claims have also gone up but there could be good news around the corner.

Pat Harrington
>> the highest we have seen is 13,500 claims in a week. just to put that into context, in December of 2007, January of 2008, we were at about 3,500 or 4,000 claims per week. so that 13,000 number is three times what we are used to seeing in normal times. we've seen those sort of level off here over the last couple of months. keeping my fingers crossed that that turns out to be the case. because if that's true, then it should give us an opportunity to try and catch up and be more timely on the claims that we've received.

Mike Sauceda
>> the department of economic security has hired more people to deal with the flood of unemployment claims but some claims are still taking a lot of time.

Pat Harrington
>> we've done well in terms of hiring staff. we've increased our staff pretty dramatically, more than 100% in the unemployment insurance benefits program over May of last year. so about seven months, we are up from 106 to well over 200 now. and adding even more. over all if you look at all of our claims, we're able to do just less than half within about 30 days and that's our expectation, which means just over half are not being produced during that expected period of time. and they take either, you know, four weeks or five weeks or six weeks or perhaps longer.

Mike Sauceda
>> for those living off unemployment and looking for a job, there's help like the unemployment center in Gilbert. They are there to help people like Alan Torgerson who was in sales and marketing before the economy turned bad.

Alan Torgerson
>> I would say its just the way that the resumes are different today and the way that companies look at resumes and the things they look for in a resume are a lot different from what they were back the first time I was looking for a job and what I’ve learned here is how to structure those things so they can meet the demands of the marketplace today. I think it’s always a challenge and you have to make sure that you’re always feeding yourself with the right information at the right time and it's easy to get down on yourself, so what you've got to be able to do is go someplace where you can get positive feedback to keep you going. this is a great source for doing that, absolutely.

Ted Simons
>> here now to give us the lowdown on Arizona’s new jobless figures is Dennis Doby, an economist with the Arizona department of commerce. good to have you on the show. thanks for joining us.


Dennis Doby
>> thanks for inviting me.

Ted Simons
>> biggest 12-month job loss in Arizona history, huh?

Dennis Doby
>> in numerical terms but in not percentage terms . but the 155,400 jobs lost over the year was the largest we've seen.

Ted Simons
>> and we're at 7% right now. does that 7% number surprise you a little bit?

Dennis Doby
>> the 7% is a little surprising. but when you look at the numbers, one of the things you have to look at is it counts those actively looking for work and doesn't count discouraged workers or marginally attached workers. if those were counted the number would be significantly higher than the officially seasonally adjusted rate.

Ted Simons
>> and I want to get to, in a second, how these numbers are calculated exactly but back to the raw figures. construction, obviously the hardest hit?

Dennis Doby
>> yes, it's been down for over two years and its still continuing to decline, 17 months of over the month declines, two years of over the year losses.

Ted Simons
>> 17 months, straight months?

Dennis Doby
>> yes.

Ted Simons
>> retail down as well?

Dennis Doby
>> retail have been significantly impacted in the last four to five months and it is one of the industries showing the greater and over the month and over the year losses.

Ted Simons
>> I know in January you often see retail slow a bit because of the post-holiday situation. Worse even than usual?

Dennis Doby
>> Yes what we’re seeing in January, is the normal seasonal losses, coupled with the cyclical losses which shows greater numbers. Over the month we lost $74,400, that’s the largest number we've lost in December to January in -- for as long as we track the numbers.

Ted Simons
>> oh gosh, professional and business services look like they were hit hard as well?


Dennis Doby
>> a lot of that is employment agencies, that includes the temporary help agencies and there's seasonal declines there as well but the economy is just sour right now.

Ted Simons
>> restaurants, I know that tourism is usually strong here in Arizona, even when recession time comes around. how are we looking with tourism, restaurants, these things?

Dennis Doby
>> leisure and hospitality is one of the industries that held up for quite a long period of time. Up until recently the last three to four months, when things seemed to have fallen apart, in Arizona and nationally, leisure and hospitality got hit and their showing both over the months and over the year losses now.

Ted Simons
>> is there anything out there that-- I’m not going to ask for job gains, but anything not lose a whole lot?

Dennis Doby
>> well, if you look at December to January, there was no published sector that gained jobs and there were three that were flat and those were air transportation, aerospace and utilities.

Ted Simons
>> all right. so there is something we can look at that and say, at least they're doing ok.

Dennis Doby
>> and they're still over the year growth in health services employment.

Ted Simons
>> there we go, all right. I want to get to how these numbers are calculated, because again 6.9 was revised down to 6.6 for December and its now 7%. there's some folks who say we can go much higher. how do you know who is looking for work and who's employed and who's not?

Dennis Doby
>> the official unemployment rate is based on what we call the current population survey, its a survey of households conducted by the members of the bureau of census. they go to the household and do an interview and then follow-ups over the phone. they're in for four months, out for eight, and then in for four and then move on to a new group. and those numbers from the household -- the survey of about 60,000 nationwide, about a thousand in Arizona -- those represent the numbers that we provide on a monthly basis.

Ted Simons
>> so 1,000 households in Arizona provide the numbers, that could make for some volatile numbers.

Dennis Doby
>> on a monthly basis, it can be fairly volatile and it can swing around a lot. That’s why we do our annual benchmarking process. which is why we don't have the substate numbers yet but they'll be released on a flow rate as the benchmarking is complete and it's designed to be accurate on an annual average basis. the monthly numbers have significant volatility when they're preliminarily released numbers .

Ted Simons
>> say a man is a handyman and has a job for the next three days, is he counted as employed?

Dennis Doby
>> as long as they answer they're employed during the reference week, which the week of the twelfth then yes they are considered employwed.

Ted Simons
>> and even full time, part time, doesn’t’ matter?

Dennis Doby
>> that’s correct.

Ted Simons
>> what about people looking for jobs or not looking for jobs? How does that factor into the equation?

Dennis Doby
>> well, the survey is based on people actively looking for work in the last four weeks. if they said they've done some active job search in that four-week period, they would be included. if they say they were discouraged, and gave up looking for work they would not be included in the total civilian employment rate.

Ted Simons
>> 6.6 to 7, what are you looking at the next three, six, nine months?

Dennis Doby
>> national forecasters I keep hearing saying about mid 9% range. what we're seeing the national rate 7.6 percent rate. The Arizona rate usually climbs to match or equal but we’re expecting the national rate to continue trending upwards. I would expect that we might see both nationally and in Arizona, it top 8 percent sometime here in 2009.

Ted Simons
>> so when were at 7, and we just went from 6.6 to 7, you’re saying it go from 7 to topping 8 sometime in 2009. That pretty strong stuff

Dennis Doby
>> we went from 6 percent in September to 7 percent in January in just a four month time period.

Ted Simons
>> thank you for the numbers. we appreciate it.

Dennis Doby
>> no problem.

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