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Arizona’s unemployment rate is up, but workers shouldn’t be worried

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PHOENIX — A recent job report found that the unemployment rate in Arizona increased in January, but one expert is advising residents not to be worried.

Jobless numbers in Arizona rose to 5.1 percent from 4.9 percent in December.

Valley economist Jim Rounds of Rounds Consulting told KTAR News 92.3 FM people should make year-over-year comparisons instead of monthly.

The unemployment rate in Arizona last January was 4.8 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“Whenever you take a look at one month versus the prior month, you end up with numbers that show losses,” Rounds said.

“We have a lot of extra hiring in the holidays and they fall off afterward, they show as job losses. You have teachers no longer working in the summer, they show it as job losses.”

The report from Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity also found nonfarm employment declined by 47,800 jobs in January, a month when many businesses need fewer seasonal workers.

The workforce increased by just over 125,000 people while nonfarm employment increased by 79,300 jobs over the year.

The only economic sector adding jobs in January was natural resources and mining, up 100 jobs, while nine sectors lost jobs.

The trade, transportation and utilities sector lost the most ground, shedding 14,000 jobs.

Rounds said people should instead focus on job growth in Arizona, which is among the top in the country.

“I put very little effort into tracking (unemployment rate) monthly because what happens is if you get people excited about the job market, they start looking but don’t have a job,” which can raise the unemployment rate, he said.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Jeremy Foster and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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