The state’s jobless rate remained unchanged for May at 4.9% despite continued losses in retail trade.
New figures from the Office of Economic Opportunity show 1,100 fewer people employed in retail sales in May than the month before. And employment numbers remain below where they were a year earlier.
Particularly hard-hit have been stores that sell clothing and accessories, shedding another 200 jobs in May. They now have 900 fewer employees than they did at the same time last year.
Also suffering are retailers of furniture and home furnishings, with employment levels now down by 500 from a year ago.
What’s causing the loss is e-commerce.
National figures from the U.S. Census Bureau show that close to 10% of all sales in the country are now done online. That compares with less than 4% a decade earlier.
Overall, the private sector lost 1,800 jobs between April and May. But private employment is still 73,100 higher than it was a year ago.
At the other end of the spectrum, Arizona manufacturing remains a bright spot in the economy, adding 1,500 new jobs in May. That brings year-over-year employment up 8,300, a healthy 4.9% increase in the past year, compared with a 1.3% annual increase for the country as a whole.
But it still is below the pre-recession peak of 188,200 in April 2006.
Construction employment added another 100 jobs in May, bringing its year-over-year increase to 19,000.
Part of what’s keeping the Arizona jobless rate steady — and higher than the national average — is simple math.
The number of new jobs being created is pretty much matching the number of people entering the workforce.
That includes not just people moving to Arizona but also those who had been unemployed for a long time but have now decided to look for work.
And the unemployment rate is a question of simple division: the number of people looking for work divided into the number of people in the labor force, working or not.