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Expert: Arizona has a strong economic outlook for 2017

FILE - In this Friday, Nov. 23, 2012 file photo, a cashier rings up a sale at a Sears store, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File)

PHOENIX — Arizona is predicted to have solid growth in job creation over the next year, marking the unofficial end to the economic downturn that started with the Great Recession.

Arizona ranked No. 6 in the nation for private sector job creation in 2016, bringing in 76,000 new jobs to the state, and is predicted to surpass that number in 2017 by 5,000 jobs.

Lee McPheters, a economics professor at Arizona State University, said in a press release that future jobs are expected to be high-quality and knowledge-based, “requiring advanced education, skills, and training.”

Arizona also ranked No. 2 nationwide for the growth of new financial sector jobs and No. 3 nationwide for the growth of new information sector jobs through October 2016.

McPheters said the growth in information sector jobs can be attributed to “high-tech, data-center, internet-type employment,” and experts expect those numbers to increase even further in 2017.

These types of businesses are coming to Arizona because the state does not have as strict of regulations as nearby states like California, has a larger workforce and is cheaper to operate, McPheters said.

The economic forecast found that population growth, which has “long been a key driver of economic growth in Arizona,” remained strong in 2016. Arizona ranked No. 4 out of the top 17 states for increased domestic population in 2016.

McPheters’ economic outlook is a 180-degree turn from Arizona State University’s President Michael Crow, who said at the East Valley Partnership’s annual economic outlook presentation that the state is underprepared for the disruption that technology will bring to the economy and society in the next 20 years.

KTAR’s Corbin Carson contributed to this report. 

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