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Arizona regaining jobs lost during the coronavirus pandemic

(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

PHOENIX — Thousands of Arizonans lost their job during the coronavirus pandemic but many are starting to regain them, and that’s driving the state’s unemployment rate down.

Before the pandemic, the state unemployment rate was holding steady at 4.5%. It jumped to a high of 13.4% in April and has been steadily declining ever since.

The latest data by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows it was 7.5% in December.

“While we did lose a significant number of jobs, month after month and kind of a steady progression we have seen many of those jobs come back,” said Doug Walls, labor market information director for the Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity.

The unemployment rate is affected by several factors, including the number of people employed and those actively looking for a job.

Walls said that when the pandemic started in March, there was a large decline in labor force participation nationwide.

“Here in Arizona, we have not seen the labor force declines quite like we’ve seen around the country,” he said. “That’s been one of the stronger indicators here in Arizona, showing the resiliency of the labor force through this pandemic period.”

Compared to the rest of the country, Arizona has also recovered a larger share of the jobs lost during the pandemic.

Walls said Arizona lost nearly 295,000 jobs at the peak of the pandemic, and about 69% of those had been recovered as of December. He said the U.S. overall has seen a recovery rate of 56%.

“The losses from the economic downturn were spread throughout a number of industry sectors, though none were hit quite as hard as the leisure and hospitality industry,” Walls said.

But there is some good news for the leisure and hospitality industry in Arizona, as it’s starting to regain jobs lost. As of December, it has recovered 66% of the jobs that were lost during the pandemic.

The unemployment numbers for January will be released mid March.

For Arizona vaccine information, visit azdhs.gov/findvaccine.

For all articles, information and updates on the coronavirus from KTAR News, visit ktar.com/coronavirus.

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