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Yuma January jobless rate nearly same as in December
Yuma County's jobless rate for January was 26.5 percent, nearly matching the previous month's 26.7 percent, according to the latest unemployment report released Thursday by the Arizona Department of Administration.
But there was a slight dip in both the number of employed and unemployed due to a decrease in the total civilian labor force, which numbered 91,600 in January vs. 92,600 in December.
The decline in employment was reflected in a 5.1 percent decrease in government employees from 15,600 in December to 14,800 in January. The private sector also saw a job loss of 2.6 percent, going from December's 37,400 employees to 36,600 in January. Much of the job losses in the private sector were in service industries.
In comparison, Yuma's jobless rate for January 2012 was 23.8 percent. Its civilian labor force also was less at 89,600.
Meanwhile, statewide Arizona's jobless rate jumped a 10th of a point in January to 8.0 percent.
That change is due largely to the loss of 45,500 jobs from the month before as businesses shed the extra staff they hired for the Christmas season. Layoffs in retail trade and employment services, mainly temporary help agencies, amounted to half of the losses in retail trade.
But Aruna Murthy, director of economic analysis for the Department of Administration, said there is some good news in the numbers. She said the job losses for January are below the 10-year average of 58,600.
Murthy said the number of people working in Arizona in January was 47,700 more than the same time a year earlier. At that time the state's jobless rate was 8.8 percent.
There is, however, a big cloud on the horizon: sequestration.
Murthy said Arizona is particularly vulnerable to the budget stalemate in Washington, what with federal spending making up 6.7 percent of the state's gross domestic product.
What's worse, she said, is that much of that is linked to the defense industry. And Murthy said she expects the military side of the equation to take deeper cuts than the social programs.
Murthy does not expect the jobless numbers for those in civilian side of military programs to jump. That is because the more likely scenario will be furloughs, meaning they are not going to be considered “unemployed'' because they're not out looking for work.
But a furlough means less income. And Murthy said that will create a ripple effect elsewhere. “Your consumption goes down if a person loses his job.”
That effect, she said, won't necessarily be equal across the state. Murthy predicted a bigger impact in communities with military bases such as Yuma, Glendale, Tucson and Sierra Vista.
Ken Rosevear, executive director of the Yuma County Chamber of Commerce, agreed.
“Furlough time means there's less money in the economy. I've been hearing that the 20 percent pay cut (because of furloughing) is really hurting families. If it continues, it will be a huge issue at a time when we can't afford it with the economy just starting to recover.”
He advises everyone to contact their congressmen and ask them to do what they can to get the issue settled. “Work at some meaningful solution.”