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Tucson ranked 3rd in the nation for job growth

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Rebecca Noble | The Daily Wildcat

Care, health and society major Ashley Raujol delicately sets out fresh pastries at Woops! bakery on University Boulevard on Tuesday, Sept. 13. Woops! opened in the last week of August and Raujol has worked there since. Tucson was recently ranked third in the nation for job growth. 

An analysis by a national economist ranked Tucson third in the country for job growth.

Tucson added 10,400 new jobs in the first three months of 2016. Compared to adding 2,900 new jobs in 2015, the Tucson metro area has seen an accelerated growth rate.

In a Bloomberg article, economist Jed Kolko analyzed metros with the fastest and slowest growth rates; Tucson was ranked third in America, just below Ogden-Clearfield and Provo-Orem, Utah.

Kolko, who specializes in American cities and future of work, analyzed Bureau of Labor Statistics data in metro areas with 500,000 or more people to compile the list. Both Utah metros saw 4.6 percent job growth, while Tucson expeienced a 4.2 percent increase in jobs between July 2015 and July 2016.

Earlier this year, George Hammond, Eller College of Management economist, and Ross DeVol, Milken Institute chief research officer, hosted the breakfast of economists where they discussed their research and Tucson’s poised economic upturn.

Hammond said that Tucson is well positioned to maintain a high pace of growth, as long as the national economy expands.

READ: Beyond the Broom: Custodian Renee Larrick tells us why she loves her job

Tucson is predicted to grow 1 percent in population size in 2017 and 0.6 percent throughout the current year, according to Hammond.

Hammond said Tucson’s job market is dynamic and not every sector shares in the economic gains. Over the beginning of the year, the number of jobs in Tucson’s natural resource industries decreased because copper prices contributed to mine losses.

Education and health services, along with financial activities and professional services, employed the newest workers. Other industries, such as hospitality, government employment and manufacturing, made small gains according to Hammond.

DeVol said the concentration of talent attracts firms and generates job growth in the long term.

Here are some takeaways from Devol’s research and presentation given at the Breakfast with economists:

  • Adding one year of education out of high school can translate to a 17.8 percent-increase in real wages
  • Tucson currently ranks 90th in 261 metropolitan areas for the percentage of the workforce with bachelor’s degrees. Although this ranking has decreased in recent years, Tucson’s economic success is tied to educational obtainment
  • Even with the UA, Tucson—along with the rest of the state—ranks 29th in a human capital measure examining ‘home grown’ capital. Arizona attracts skilled labor but does not self-sustainably educate its own residents to fill the skilled jobs being created
  • Wildcat alumni Daniel Martin Dicochea, said the Eller College of Management draws business talent from around the state, the country and even around the world—all of which adds to the local economy.

    READ: Two Eller grads make Tucson's local foodie scene great again with FoodInRoot 

    Dicochea is the CEO of a company called WorkSphere, which was founded on campus and won the 2016 McGuire New Venture Competition and Showcase.

    After traveling around the country with his company and visiting many business schools, Dicochea said it was clear Eller is one of the top business schools in the country and the resources they connected his company to contributed immensely to its success.

    WorkSphere’s software began as an employee-tracking app but evolved into a platform for businesses to securely manage their employees and their work through smartphones.

    Having the experience of running a company, Dicochea said there is a lot of opportunity for investment in the current market.

    He said there is always a balancing of risk versus reward when adding or creating new jobs or expanding a business, and currently Tucson’s economy is favoring more risk and expansion.

    Increased growth often amplifies current challenges. The American Society of Civil Engineers’ 2015 American Infrastructure Report Card awarded Arizona a C grade in infrastructure. While a C is higher than the national D+ grade, increased growth will further strain infrastructure.

    On their website the ASCE said investing in infrastructure allowed Arizona to grow, and continued investment is necessary to maintain its growth, like the boom of jobs in Tucson.

    With a decrease in federal funds coming to the state, Tucson will need to look to the state House and its own pocketbook in order to make these investments in roads and other structure projects.

    Tucson’s economy is experiencing a significant job growth, which Hammond predicted will continue. Population growth and increased pressure on infrastructure are expected to occur alongside this, according to the ASCE. 


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