High Frequency Data

Author(s):
George Hammond, Ph.D. Director of the Economic and Business Research Center
Jennifer Pullen, Senior Research Economist

Non-Seasonally Adjusted Unemployment Rate June 2020

The Tucson Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA) non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 9.9% in June. That was down from 12.8% in April, but up from 8.4% in May. Tucson's unemployment rate fell in the middle of peer western metros in June. Las Vegas posted the highest unemployment rate at 18.0%. Nationally, the non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 11.2% in June. As noted below, the U.S. seasonally adjusted unemployment fell to 10.2% in July. The July unemployment data for the MSAs will not be released until early September.

National employment update

The national employment situation report was released today by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (bls.gov) The U.S. added 1.8 million nonfarm jobs over the month in July on a seasonally-adjusted basis measured by the Current Employment Statistics (CES) program. From February to April, the U.S. lost 22.2 million jobs. From April to July the nation had added back 9.3 million, for a replacement rate of 41.8%. We are making progress but still have a long way to go to replace the jobs lost during the pandemic.

Exhibit 1 shows over the year nonfarm job growth rates for the U.S. and Arizona (using nonseasonally adjusted data). Note that the state has been outperforming the nation considerably. Over the year in June, the last month available for both Arizona and the U.S., Arizona jobs were down 3.3% compared to 8.7% for the U.S. As of July, U.S. jobs were down 7.7% over the year.

Exhibit 1: Arizona and U.S. Nonfarm Job Growth Over the Year, Nonseasonally Adjusted

The U.S. seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate (official measure) fell to 10.2% in July, from 11.1% in June. The U6 measure of unemployment, which includes all those in the official measure plus persons marginally attached to the labor force, plus persons employed part time for economic reasons, fell from 18.0% in June to 16.5% in July.

Arizona’s seasonally-adjusted official unemployment rate in June (latest month) was 10.0%, 1.1 percentage points below the U.S.

Weekly Roundup

Arizona initial claims for regular unemployment insurance fell to 16,351 for the week ended August 1, according to the advance estimate. Initial claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) plummeted to 52,293, down from 266,674 the prior week. According to the Arizona Department of Employment Services that was largely driven by a change to the PUA portal to deter fraudulent activity.

PUA makes regular unemployment insurance benefits (max $240/week) available to the self-employed, gig/contract workers, and others. These groups would not normally be eligible. Under the CARES Act, this is set to expire at the end of the year.

The federally-funded supplement of $600/week comes from the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program. This expired during the last full week of July, which ended on the 25th.

According to the Arizona Department of Employment Security, they have paid out $8.5 billion in regular, PUA, and FPUC benefits since the beginning of March. That was 2.5% of Arizona’s annual personal income last year. These benefits have helped to support household spending (and tax revenues) in Arizona during the pandemic. If the maximum weekly benefit is left at the current $240/week level, we can expect a significant impact on consumer spending, tax revenues, and other economic outcomes.

U.S. initial claims for regular unemployment insurance fell to 1.2 million for the week ended August 1, down from 1.4 million the prior week. PUA initial claims also declined, falling from 908,800 to 655,707.

TSA traveler throughput inched up for the week ended August 1, to 4.8 million passengers. Overall, traveler throughput has been stable at just below 5 million passengers since mid-July, an ominous sign for the air travel industry.

Seated diners (OpenTable data) rose for the second week in a row for Arizona and Phoenix, but remained well below the levels reached in mid-June. Seated diners were down over the year for the week ended August 1 by 57.1% and 67.2% for Arizona and Phoenix, respectively. Nationally, seated diners were down 58.4% over the year for the week ended August 1.

Travel to retail and recreation places (Google Maps data) remained below mid-June levels for Arizona, Maricopa, and Pinal counties for the week ended July 25. All three geographies in the state were below the national average.

U.S. hotel occupancy continued its gradual improvement for the week ended August 1, with the occupancy rate rising to 48.9% from 48.1% the prior week. Occupancy was still down 36.9% from a year ago.

U.S. movie ticket sales more than doubled last week to $961,230. Unfortunately, that was still 99.8% below last year. There were nine movies released last week.

New business applications in Arizona rose to 690 for the week ended August 1. That was 43.8% above a year ago and pulled the 52-week average up to 3.7% above the year-ago level.

See all the weekly data and visualizations here