Economist expects developing Arizona’s workforce to cost initially, but pay off

Feb 10, 2022, 9:45 AM | Updated: 10:38 am
(AP Photo, File/Richard Vogel)...
(AP Photo, File/Richard Vogel)
(AP Photo, File/Richard Vogel)

PHOENIX – Arizona has become a landing spot for high-tech companies and other businesses, but a Valley economist said the state must continue to develop the workforce and that means pumping more money into education.

“We’re going to need a lot of investment and we’re going to be bringing in more money than we’re spending, which means we can reduce taxes while further investing in education,” Jim Rounds of Tempe-based Rounds Consulting Group told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Thursday.

“We have to have enough workforce to use that as a tool to lure more companies to the state. That’s what we’ve been doing but we need to get workers trained up for these big business locations,” he added.

The state is a magnet for operations such as Taiwan Semiconductor, clean-energy companies, auto manufacturers and expanded health care sector opportunities, among others, he said.

All those fields are looking for highly educated workers, Rounds said.

“The biggest opportunity that we have here in the state is workforce development. … We need to keep pushing forward,” he said.

That could mean additional burdens to taxpayers. Rounds said more state spending on education can be offset by the sales tax revenues from the higher paying jobs.

“I’m hoping state leaders talk about this during the current legislative session and for the remainder of the decade.”

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Economist expects developing Arizona’s workforce to cost initially, but pay off