State, local jobless rates lower for November
Area / November 2012 / October 2012 / November 2011
Arizona (seas adj) / 7.8% / 8.1% / 8.7%
Arizona / 7.5% / 8.1% / 8.7%
U.S. (seas adj) / 7.7% / 7.9% / 8.7%
Apache / 17.9% / 18.7% / 18.2%
Cochise / 7.4% / 7.8% / 7.9%
Coconino / 7.6% / 7.6% / 8.7%
Gila / 8.8% / 9.3% / 100%
Graham / 8.4% / 8.7% / 9.4%
Greenlee / 5.4% / 6.4% / 7.1%
La Paz / 8.8% / 9.5% / 9.1%
Maricopa / 6.4% / 6.8% / 7.6%
Mohave / 8.8% / 9.4% / 10.1%
Navajo / 13.9% / 14.4% / 14.8%
Pima / 6.6% / 7.1% / 7.6%
Pinal / 7.8% / 8.4% / 9.5%
Santa Cruz / 16.3% / 18.3% / 17.1%
Yavapai / 7.9% / 8.5% / 19.0%
Yuma / 27.5% / 29.8% / 26.3%
Sector employment in 1,000s
Sector / November 2012 / At its peak*
Total nonfarm / 2,507.1/ 2,713.6
Manufacturing / 152.5 / 187.4
Natural resources & mining / 11.9 / 14.3
Construction / 120.1 / 247.5
Trade, transportation, utilities / 498.6 / 549.2
Information/ 35.5 / 55.6
Financial activities / 172.0 / 187.2
Professional & business services / 364.8 / 408.7
Private education & health services / 370.7 / 323.2**
Leisure & hospitality / 266.3 / 279.1
Other services / 87.4 / 102.0
Government (including public education) / 427.3 / 449.0
* Different sectors have different peak dates
** Prior peak in October 2008
-- Source: Arizona Department of Administration
Arizona's unemployment rate dipped below 8 percent last month, the first time that's happened in four years. Yuma County's jobless rate dipped as well but still remains well into double digits at 27.5 percent, according to figures released Thursday by the Arizona Department of Administration.
That's a decline from 29.8 percent in October, but it's higher than the 26.3 percent unemployment rate for November 2011.
Along with a lower jobless rate for November, Yuma also had a reduction in the civilian labor force, dropping from 92,406 in October to 90,038 in November. That's the lowest number of people in Yuma's labor force since May.
But the Yuma area also saw a slight increase in the number of employed, rising from 64,842 in October to 65,244 in November. Most of the new jobs likely are related to the area's seasonal economy and the holidays, with job increases in trade, hospitality and state government.
Meanwhile, new figures Thursday from the Arizona Department of Administration show the state added 22,700 jobs in November. That compares with the 10-year average of 16,900 for this time of year.
In fact, the last time Arizona's November year-over-year job growth was this large was in 2005.
All that was enough to drop the state's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate by three-tenths of a point, to 7.8 percent. By comparison, the national jobless rate for November was 7.7 percent.
Arizona's gain includes 11,600 jobs in the retail sector alone.
While retail employment generally picks up this time of year, the jump this time was significant, according to Aruna Murthy, the agency's director of economic analysis. There are 6,700 more Arizonans working in retail now than there were a year ago.
Murthy said that hiring portends a good season for retail sales, with the revenues from those further boosting the economy.
But the good news goes beyond just retail.
The state's professional and business services companies added 5,000 workers in November. That brings their employment up by 18,000 from November 2011.
Banks, insurance companies, brokers and real estate firms added 1,700 employees last month, and 5,400 over last year.
In fact, the only sector of the economy to lose jobs in November was construction, which shed 2,800 employees.
But Murthy said even that has to be put into perspective.
She said this industry normally loses about 2,300 jobs this time of the year. Even with the somewhat larger losses this year, Murthy said construction employment is still 6,900 higher than the prior November.
Murthy said there are other positive signs.
She said this is the ninth consecutive month where private sector employment has gone up more than 2 percent from the same time a year earlier. And the overall increase of 59,600 jobs this November compared with 2011 is the biggest figure since February 2007.
Finally, this is the third consecutive month that the state's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate declined.
“That seems to suggest, overall, the economy is improving,” Murthy said.
Howard Fischer of Capital Media Services contributed to this report.