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No ‘positive spin' on area joblessness
After reading the recent article in the Yuma Sun titled “Yuma's jobless rate better in February,” I decided to check out the unemployment rate as published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. A chart accompanies this column showing the unemployment percentages for the one month of February for Yuma County during each of the past 23 years from 1990 through 2012.
I was shocked to see that 2012 is the worst unemployment rate in the last 23 years for the month of February. The bureau's published numbers that I pulled up only went back to 1990, so it would not surprise me that if we look back into the 1980s and 1970s that we would find that 2012 is the worst year ever.
It is difficult to put a “positive spin” on “the worst unemployment percentage for Yuma County for the month of February in the last 23 years.” It also causes me much concern as to what the unemployment percentage rate will be for Yuma County during the remainder of calendar 2012.
According to the economists in Washington, D.C., the “Great Recession” ended in June of 2009. That is almost three years ago! Although unemployment is decreasing in most of the counties in Arizona and for the state of Arizona as a whole, it's not decreasing in Yuma County. In addition, if you tell people in Yuma County that the “Great Recession ended” three years ago and things are much better, they mostly likely will look at you thinking you are out of touch with reality.
We are now in the “Budget Season,” meaning that Yuma County as well as all of the school districts and Arizona Western College are in the middle of their budget process and will be finalizing their budgets during the next few months. We will see what comes from those budgets, and in addition possible cuts from the state Legislature.
With a population of roughly 200,000 Yuma County is only 3.09 percent of the 6,482,505 people who resided in Arizona during 2011 as estimated by the U.S. Census Bureau. As such, although Yuma County is one of 15 counties in Arizona, we still are a small percentage of the state's population and therefore our needs, such as for jobs here in Yuma County, don't rise up to the top of the pile of concerns for most of the legislators from Phoenix and Tucson.
This past year many homeowners in Yuma County saw their property taxes increase 20 percent to 30 percent. Last fall I met with Arizona State Treasurer Doug Ducey who told me that the state projects a budget surplus this year of between $150 million and $500 million and that any surplus will be saved for 2014 when the 1 percent state sales tax will expire.
I told Treasurer Ducey that people in Yuma County aren't concerned about surviving 2014, rather they are concerned about surviving 2011 and 2012, because property taxes increased some $14,000,000 and they simply don't have the extra $14,000,000 to pay to any entity no matter how just the need and cause of that entity.
It's highly doubtful that property owners in Yuma County will see any reimbursement of those property tax increases incurred in 2011. The question is -—with unemployment percentages and the economy improving in Maricopa and Pima counties, while Yuma County simultaneously is hitting all time highs in unemployment percentages — will the statewide improvement be enough to provide sufficient funds to Yuma County and the schools so that Yuma County property owners don't see additional property tax increases?
David Egeberg is Yuma County Treasurer.
By the Year
1990 - 15.4
1991 - 13.9
1992 - 17.0
1993 - 20.9
1994 - 20.3
1995 - 20.8
1996 - 18.8
1997 - 21.0
1998 - 19.8
1999 - 20.2
2000 - 9.8
2001 - 10.8
2002 - 9.9
2003 - 10.9
2004 - 10.2
2005 - 10.3
2006 - 9.9
2007 - 8.8
2008 - 9.7
2009 - 15.8
2010 - 20.0
2011 - 21.4
2012 - 23.7