Tucson lags in job opportunities, study shows

Last August, job-seekers flocked to the Hilton El Conquistador to apply for some of the 800 jobs available at Tucson Premium Outlets mall.

PHOENIX — High unemployment, low salaries and a lack of diversity in employment make Tucson the worst major Arizona community in which to get a job, a new report says.

The findings by WalletHub mirror many of the same conclusions that economists have reached. But it puts them all into a single equation and measures the factors against 150 communities across the nation.

And Tucson came out at No. 110.

By contrast, Scottsdale was ranked No. 16, followed by Chandler at 20 and Gilbert at 28.

The report, in essence, is designed to help new those searching for work to find the best places to find a job.

It starts with the fact that the unemployment rate in Tucson continues to run higher than in Maricopa County communities. That rate is determined by the number of people who say they are actively seeking work versus the number actually employed.

It also doesn’t help that the financial advice website says data from the U.S. Census Bureau put Tucson’s “industry variety” at No. 126, compared to 69 for Phoenix-area cities. That’s not surprising, given the Tucson area’s dependence on the University of Arizona and defense-related jobs.

And even assuming someone does find a job, conditions are better elsewhere.

WalletHub finds that the Tucson’s median annual income of $38,298 is below other Arizona cities measured, even when considering the cost of living — and below most other cities measured nationally.

At the other extreme, WalletHub puts Gilbert in first place nationwide at $84,704. That even beat out Scottsdale, where $75,317 managed to gain third place nationally.

Those living in Gilbert need all that money, with WalletHub ranking that community as having the second-least-affordable housing in the nation.

Looking at it another way, the report finds more than 13.7 percent of those employed were living below the federal poverty line. In that category, Tucson ranked No. 100; Gilbert was at the other end among Arizona cities at No. 4.

There are some categories, however, in which WalletHub found Tucson a better place to seek a job.

For example, it has more local job opportunities — those in the same community — than places like Gilbert, Glendale and Peoria. That’s taking the number of unemployed residents and dividing it into the number of job openings.

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