By Eric Jay Toll

In February, Greater Phoenix gained 13,400 jobs over January 2021, putting the workforce within 3.6 percent of February 2020’s employment totals. The Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity pegged the metro workforce during the month at just 3.6 percent fewer hires than 2020’s last pre-pandemic month. Pandemic layoffs began late in March 2020, with April and May showing the worst of the year’s employment situation

The employment and personal income numbers are showing signs of economic strengthening in Arizona. The data set trajectory puts the state on a path to equal or exceed pre-pandemic hiring this month. The data, released on April 21, will tell the tale.
Greater Phoenix hiring in logistics was up 14.3 percent in February, compared to a year earlier. Hiring in banking increased the workforce by 5.2 percent over last year, while jobs in the finance and insurance sector rose 2.4 percent. The bioscience healthcare sectors were up nearly 1 percent over 2019. All other sectors are still below February 2020 workforce levels.

Greater Phoenix posted a 6.7 percent unemployment rate, statistically unchanged from January but well over the 3.8 percent rate a year earlier .

The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) personal income includes all wages and salaries, Social Security, government benefits, dividends and interest, and business ownership proceeds. Across the U.S., in 2020, personal income totals reflect the first stimulus payment and the pandemic-generated supplemental unemployment income.
Nationally, state personal income growt
h averaged 6.1 percent in year-over-year comparisons. Utah was third behind Montana with 8.2 percent, Idaho placed fourth at 8.1 percent, and Rhode Island was fifth, posting a 7.7 percent gain. Of the ten states with the highest personal income gains during the pandemic, half were in the West.

BEA says that the 2020 boost in average personal income reflects government payouts from the CARES Act stimulus package. However, across the nation, wages and earnings were down by an average of 0.3 percent. Arizona’s average wages were up, pushing capita personal income up to $48,950. Arizona per capita personal income remains about $10,000 under the national average, $59,729.