The state's jobless rate ticked up a tenth of a point last month, to 7.0 percent amid lackluster overall growth of jobs in the private sector and sharp but seasonally expected declines in employment in public education.
It might have been worse except for one thing: the federal Affordable Care Act.
Aruna Murthy, director of economic analysis for the state Department of Administration, noted that employment growth in the state's health care industry grew by 1,500 between June and July. And there are 10,100 more people working in that sector of the economy now than a year ago.
Put another way, 15 percent of the total year-over-year job growth in Arizona was in health care. And the vast majority of that, Murthy said, was in employment at doctor's offices, clinics and other ambulatory care centers.
The employment numbers come amid a report by the Gallup organization showing the number of people who lack insurance has dropped.
That organization said about 20.4 percent of Arizonans lacked health coverage before the Affordable Care Act went into effect this year. The most recent number is 17.2 percent, with Gallup ranking the drop as 19th among all the states.
“Essentially what that's telling us is, as the number of insured people increase we anticipate continued increase in the demand for ambulatory services,” Murthy said.
She also said that hospital employment is up by 2,600 year-over-year. Yet the number of people working in nursing and residential care facilities ¬¬— services not really part of the Affordable Care Act — was up by just 500.
On the flip side of the employment picture, Murthy said the state's construction industry, once considered on the rebound, shed another 1,100 jobs last month, and overall construction employment is 6,200 less than what it was in July 2013.
The softest spot within that industry is building construction, including homes, apartments and commercial structures.
Murthy said the trend in Arizona is just the opposite of what is happening nationwide. But she said there may be relief on the horizon, with increased housing starts.