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Economist: Arizona’s ‘mediocre’ economy better than most

PHOENIX — Arizona’s “mediocre” economy may be puttering along, but it’s doing better than many others nationwide, a Valley economist said.

“If I had to pick one word, it would be ‘mediocre’ at present,” economist Elliot Pollack told News/Talk 92.3 KTAR’s Rob & Karie on Monday. “However, it’s doing well relative to the rest of the country.”

To back his claim, Pollack said that Phoenix was the 49th fastest-growing city and 25th in employment job growth a few years ago. Phoenix now ranks fourth and fifth in each category, respectively.

Pollack also said that Arizona’s economy is comparatively anemic to a standard recovery, but it’s not the state’s fault.

“The fact that that whole economy is so slow is holding us back,” he said.

Arizona’s economy is also reliant on several major companies and the ripple effect they cause.

“We’re here because of Intel and because of Honeywell, because of Boeing, because of JDA Software, because of the resorts,” said Pollack. “That’s what drives the economy.”

Pollack compared the aforementioned companies to a coal mine in a ghost town: Once the coal runs out and the mine closes, the town goes under. If one of the large firms was to lose 10,000 jobs in Arizona, he said the cost would be an additional 25,000 jobs.

Despite Arizona’s reliance on large technology firms, Pollack said the state can expect smaller companies to move here as the state looks to diversify, with large moves coming few and far between.

“It’s very difficult to diversify your economy quickly. Almost nobody’s been able to do it. The state’s that have a very diversified economy have had a very diversified economy for an extended period of time,” he said, adding that Arizona’s economy was more diverse when more electronics were being manufactured in the United States. Those jobs have since been moved overseas.