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Arizona trails national average in underemployment

PHOENIX — Even though the state’s housing market and economy has improved since the recession in 2008, Arizona still lags behind the rest of the country in some important employment categories.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has released last year’s numbers of those unemployed and underemployed, and economist Todd Johnson said Arizona had numbers above the national average.

“Arizona was running a fair amount higher than the U.S.,” said Johnson. “The Arizona figure is 16 percent, whereas the U.S. is 13.8, so that’s a fairly large difference.”

The report factored in the numbers of those unemployed; underemployed, which are individuals who are working part time and would prefer to be full time; and those “marginally attached to the labor force,” which are individuals who have looked for work in the last 12 months but not in the past four weeks.

In 2013 Arizona had 241,800 unemployed residents and another 184,100 were underemployed, according to the report. It also said there were 64,500 residents in the marginally attached category and of those, 20,700 were considered discouraged workers, or those who are not looking for work because they do not believe jobs are available.

Last year’s numbers in Arizona were slightly up from 2012, which was at 15.9 percent, but for the most part numbers in the U.S. and Arizona have been dropping since a spike in 2008. However, Johnson said Arizona has stayed constantly above the national average.

He said Arizona’s 16 percent average makes it among the worst in the country.

“The top four are all in the west,” he said. “Arizona is fourth, so it’s doing at least somewhat better than Nevada and California and Oregon.”

He said Nevada had the worst average at 16.5 percent.