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Critical week looms ahead for Arizona economy as reopening continues

(AP Photo)

PHOENIX – Since last Friday, Arizona’s small and medium-sized retail shops were allowed to have customers in the stores for the first time in weeks. The state’s restaurants were allowed to reopen Monday under strict guidelines and safety measures.

Chris Camacho, president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, said now comes the big test during the COVID-19 pandemic – consumer confidence.

“It’s very critical in our state’s recovery,” Camacho said.

“The sales tax for our cities and state is the lifeblood for their coffers, which allows us to invest in infrastructure, public services and other amenities. So having restaurants and retail reopening is critical.”

Almost 550,000 Arizonans have filed unemployment claims since mid-March, according to the state Department of Economic Security. Valley economist Jim Rounds said there was no question things look bleak now but he’s found a few positives happening.

“We obviously have business closures and people unable to pay their rent, issues like that,” he said.

“The government has been very responsive in this particular downturn. Hopefully, good policy will prevail and we’ll launch out of this downturn with a lot of strength,” Rounds said.

“We’re still roughly in the top 10 for job growth by percentage. There’s actually losses but in terms of overall job growth percents were doing we’re doing OK compared to the rest of the nation.”

The Small Business Administration said more than 51,000 eligible Arizona enterprises have received loans totaling more than $4 billion in the second round of the federal Paycheck Protection Program.

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