Arizona economic expert wants state to keep attracting newcomers
PHOENIX – Arizona should keep making available the kinds of career opportunities that are already drawing a workforce from around the country and fueling the state’s growth, according to a Valley economist.
“If we don’t maintain a competitive economic development profile, then these people from California will end up in Texas or to our north in Utah. We need to take advantage of our opportunities,” Jim Rounds of Tempe-based Rounds Consulting Group told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Tuesday.
The population percentage growth in Arizona, Utah, Idaho and Texas – despite the COVID-19 pandemic – is directly tied to opportunity, he said.
Arizona, Idaho and Utah have fully recovered the jobs that were lost during the initial phase of the pandemic. For Arizona that was about 320,000 jobs.
“It’s a combination of people wanting to go where they would like to live, but even more importantly, wanting to go where they have opportunity to be successful – find jobs, raise a family – Arizona is one of the top [places] across the country,” Rounds said.
Arizona, Texas and Utah are big enough states where tax rates and public policy-related development matters more than in a smaller state, he said.
“One of the reasons that Austin [Texas], has been such a leader in terms of high-wage growth is because about 10-15 years ago they started really investing in a lot of the higher education issues that would help help advance the economy,” Rounds said.
He added the Grand Canyon State is doing much the same with the Arizona Board of Regents’ economy initiative. That budget item for Fiscal Year 2023 includes $75 million toward neuroscience education at the state’s public four-year schools – Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University and the University of Arizona.