Projection of 500,000 new Arizona jobs could be on low side, analyst says
PHOENIX – A state report released Thursday projected that Arizona jobs would increase by more than half a million over the 10-year period ending in 2026.
That projection is on the low side, according to a Valley economic analyst.
“I actually think we can beat it,” Jim Rounds, president of Tempe-based Rounds Consulting Group, told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Friday.
“If we continue to push forward on good economic development policies at the state, if we continue to think about all the things that matter in business recruiting – the entire package – I think we can lift that number some.”
The report by the Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity said the state would go from approximately 2.9 million jobs in 2016 to more than 3.4 million jobs in 2026.
That would represent growth of 542,795 jobs or 1.7 percent annualized growth.
In Phoenix, the growth was projected below the state rate at 1.5 percent. But in the balance of Maricopa County, excluding Phoenix, it was 2.1 percent.
The construction sector was expected to have the fastest growth in both Phoenix and the rest of Maricopa County, each at 3.5 percent annually.
Rounds said the increase won’t be just in quantity of jobs, but in quality, too.
“What we saw before is we were mainly just creating volume of jobs,” he said.
“Now we’re starting to add higher wage jobs. We’re getting interest in those industries that tend to pay more, will set up shop here, create a large organization and employ more people. And then that trickles down to other jobs as well.”
That will lift wages across the board, Rounds said, but it could take a while.
“The economy is more like a freight train,” he said. “It has a slow start, and then once you do everything right it will pick up speed.
“But that also means that it can get derailed if politicians or bad economic policies get in the way.”
KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Jeremy Foster contributed to this report.