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Experts: Two years until Arizona sees full economic recovery

State economic experts hosted an 2015 forecast luncheon Wednesday which provided perspective on Arizona’s recovery from the nationwide recession that set in more than six years ago.

According to a release from the W.P. Carey School of Business, around 750 people were in attendance at the event, which was held at the Phoenix Convention Center.

“As of May, the United States finished gaining back 100 percent of its jobs lost in the recession, but in Arizona alone, we’re only 69 percent of the way there,” explained Research Professor Lee McPheters, director of the JPMorgan Chase Economic Outlook Center at the W. P. Carey School of Business. “We expect to regain that last 96,400 jobs in the next year and a half.”

And while Arizona has grown more slowly than the nation as a whole, it currently holds a faster economic growth rate than most other states.

The state’s accelerated growth as of late caused McPheters to forecast general growth across Arizona. Specifically, he predicts that employment will rise from a growth rate of 2.2 percent to a 2.5 percent mark, personal income will jump from 4 to 4.5 percent and the population growth rate will jump from 1.4 to 1.5 percent.

He went on to highlight areas where Arizona is excelling, pointing to job creation in finance, insurance and health care.

Another expert, John Lonski of Moody’s Analytics, predicted continued gradual growth for the U.S. in gross domestic product and gradual trimming of the unemployment rate. He expects the later rate to be down to 5.4 percent by the end of next year.

Lonski also pointed to a significant rise in wage and salary income, expecting it to rise by 4.5 percent nationwide in 2015.

“We’re also experiencing some big changes because of a population shift,” Lonski added. “Only about 1.5 percent of the jobs added post-recession have gone to those ages 16 to 54, while those ages 55 and older gained 20.9 percent. This shift has prompted less spending and more saving, especially by those closer to retirement.”