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Ariz. jobless rate dropped last month

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Posted: Friday, November 29, 2013 6:45 am

The state’s jobless rate dropped last month — but just a bit — indicating that Arizona’s recovery is languishing.

New figures from the state Department of Administration peg the October seasonally adjusted unemployment rate at 8.2 percent. That’s just a tenth of a point lower than both August and September.

It is also higher than not only the rate in July but up from last year’s 8.1 percent figure.

And the picture may actually be even worse than the numbers show.

Aruna Murthy, the agency’s director of economic analysis, said federal officials told her that some people who actually were unemployed during the federal government shutdown instead were listed as employed but not working. Had they been properly classified, she said, the rate would have been “slightly higher, but not substantially.”

Overall, Arizona added 14,200 jobs in October. Murthy said that is below the post-recession average of 16,300 for this time of year.

And what’s worse, she said, is that the trend in terms of the number of jobs added in October is declining year after year. She called the job gains this past October “lackluster.”

Looking at individual elements of the Arizona economy, bars and restaurants added 1,700 jobs. But hotel occupancy was down by 700 from September.

Retail trade increased by 400 workers.

Construction employment was down by 2,500 between September and October. But there are still 500 more people working in that industry now than a year earlier.

Murthy also noted that private education added 2,800 jobs month over month. But she questioned the accuracy of those numbers, noting that major players like the University of Phoenix have been laying off workers.

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