A lack of quality employment opportunities in Pima County is viewed as the largest — and most important — barrier to improving economic development locally, a new community poll has found.
While expressing frustration at the lack of quality jobs in the area, respondents to an Arizona Daily Star-Strongpoint Opinion Research poll shared they did not feel city or county governments were progressing economic development as well as they would like to see.
Nonetheless, 68% of those surveyed rated the current state of economic development in Pima County as average or good.
When asked to identify barriers to economic development, transportation/infrastructure, lack of quality employment opportunities and lack of quality pre-k to high school education were identified as the top barriers, with lack of quality employment opportunities rated the most important of the three.
Other factors considered as barriers to economic development that were not as highly rated included lack of skilled workers, lack of affordable housing, local tax policies, and lack of training and post-secondary education.
Technology/innovation was cited as one of the most important industries for the progression of economic development, 56% of respondents said.
Healthcare/biosciences and energy/renewable energy followed at 45% and 39%, respectively.
Tucson generated solid job gains in 2018, adding 4,300 jobs, and carried the momentum into 2019, economists with the University of Arizona Eller College of Management recently reported.
Construction added the most jobs last year, followed by manufacturing, education and health services, and professional and business services.
Tucson is expected to add 4,700 jobs this year, followed by 3,500 jobs in 2020 and 2,000 jobs in 2021.
Economists believe technology will impact as many as 154,000 jobs in the Tucson market in the next 20 to 30 years.
Jobs in leisure and hospitality; trade, transportation, and utilities; and natural resources and mining may face the highest risk from automation, while education and health services; information; and government face lower risk, economists believe.
Poll respondents said they expect to see local and state governments playing an active role in economic development efforts, focusing on recruitment and retention of new businesses, with more than half saying it is extremely or somewhat appropriate for city, county and state governments to offer tax breaks and other incentives to attract corporations to the area.
The latest installment of the Arizona Daily Star-Strongpoint Opinion Research community poll was conducted in May and involved 2,345 respondents.