Employment Growth by Industry

How are we doing?    

Growth Rate of Total NonFarm Employment (2020)



In 2020, total nonfarm employment for the Tucson Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) declined by 4.6%. The decline in employment was driven by the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. That was a loss of 18,042 jobs. In comparison, Phoenix’s employment declined by 2.8%, and statewide jobs dropped by 3.1%. When compared to peer western metropolitan statistical areas, Tucson’s job loss fell near the middle, ranking seventh. Salt Lake City posted the smallest loss in employment at 2.1%. Las Vegas, one of the hardest-hit metropolitan areas in the U.S., posted a 12.4% decline in jobs. Las Vegas has been hit especially hard by the pandemic due to its large share of jobs in leisure & hospitality. While Tucson was hit hard last year, the recovery has begun and prospects look brighter for the second half of 2021 and 2022. 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 4.6% decline in employment from 2019 to 2020, driven by the pandemic. Overall, the state of Arizona wasn’t hit as hard as Tucson. Arizona’s decline in total nonfarm employment of 3.1% was the third-lowest among western states. Arizona and Tucson both fared better than the employment losses posted by the nation. Idaho posted the lowest employment losses of the western states at -0.7%, while Nevada had the highest loss at 10.4%. Nevada, like Las Vegas, was hit especially hard by the pandemic due to the large share of jobs in leisure & hospitality. 

What are the key trends?

Total employment growth in the Tucson MSA was slow to rebound from the 2008-2009 recession. However, employment growth in Tucson picked up in 2019 to 2.3%. That was the fastest growth posted since prior to the 2008-2009 recession. Employment growth then rapidly declined in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Tucson’s loss of 4.6% in 2020 was slightly better than the national loss of 5.8%. While Tucson was hit hard last year, it is important to remember that job growth in Tucson prior to the pandemic was strong and that the recovery has begun. Tucson’s employment growth looks better for the second half of 2021 and 2022.

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).