Employment Growth by Industry

How are we doing?    

Growth Rate of Total NonFarm Employment (2015)

In 2015 the growth rate in total nonfarm employment for the Tucson Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) was 0.8%. In comparison to the 12 western MSAs, Tucson ranked at the bottom, just below Albuquerque. Austin posted a 4.6% increase in employment from 2014 to 2015, whereas most of the comparison MSAs had employment gains in the 3-4% range. Tucson posted slow but positive employment growth since the Great Recession. The Great Recession hit Tucson hard, with job losses totaling 8.8%.  

Beginning in the second half of 2015, job growth in Tucson began to accelerate. This momentum has carried on into early 2016, with preliminary estimates suggesting that Tucson’s over-the-year job gains in the first quarter outpaced the nation. Keep in mind, however, that this preliminary data will be revised in early 2017. During the past couple of years, these annual revisions have significantly reduced reported job growth. Overall, Tucson does seem on track to generate faster job gains this year. To view the preliminary monthly job data for Tucson, visit the award-winning Arizona’s Economy online magazine or download the free Arizona’s Economy smartphone app.

Why is it important?

The rate at which total employment changes is a key indicator of the overall performance of an economy. Employment growth reflects a region’s ability to generate jobs, income, and economic opportunities for those living in that region. Slow job growth can lead to increases in unemployment, reduced wages for those employed, and a decline in overall economic growth. Employment growth, subdivided by industry, informs us what industries dominate the employment mix and how that mix is changing over time. 

How do we compare?

Tucson posted a 0.8% increase in employment from 2014 to 2015 while employment in the state of Arizona increased by 2.6% during the same period. Both Arizona and the nation posted employment growth rates that were more than double Tucson’s. In 2015, all of the western states had employment growth rates that surpassed the U.S. rate of 2.1%, with the exception of New Mexico. Utah lead the western states with an increase in employment of 3.8%, while Arizona ranked eighth out of the 10 comparison states. 

What are the key trends?

Total employment growth in the Tucson MSA has been slow to rebound since the Great Recession. Tucson’s job growth averaged 0.8% per year from 2011 to 2015, below its average rate of 1.5% per year during the 2000 to 2008 period. Arizona and the U.S. posted stronger job growth than Tucson since the end of the Great Recession, averaging 2.0% per year and 1.7% per year, respectively. Peak to trough during the Great Recession, Tucson posted a job loss of 8.8%, while Arizona and the U.S. lost 12.3% and 6.1% of jobs, respectively. Tucson and Arizona were both hit harder than the nation in job losses during the Great Recession. 

How is it measured?

Employment by industry is estimated based on a survey of employers. It reflects the number of jobs at establishments located within an area. An individual that works at two separate establishments during a year will be counted twice. Employment data come from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Current Employment Statistics (CES). The CES collects monthly survey data on employment, hours, and earnings of workers on nonfarm payroll. All military data come from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA).