Economic outlook may force Pima County leaders to make tough decisions

A dismal economic forecast may force Pima County leaders to make some tough decisions in the coming months.
Published: Feb. 24, 2023 at 6:36 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - A dismal economical forecast may force Pima County leaders to make some tough decisions in the coming months.

The county is trying to get out ahead of the economic curve. If things go bad, they want to have a plan in place rather than trying to do it on the fly.

That is why county leaders released a report that shows where they are and where they need to go.

“Tucson is growing but we’re growing a little bit slower than the U.S. and Phoenix,” said University of Arizona economist George Hammond. “Tucson is generally making progress.”

But according to the Pima County report that progress is very slow.

The economic indicators -- inflation, housing, unemployment, interest rates and gasoline sales -- are all in the unfavorable range. That means the county may need to take some action to mitigate any economic damage.

That could be putting off some capital projects like construction. But it could also mean the county might have to leave some unfilled vacancies open or possibly eliminate some positions.

But some economists said the indicators are not out of line with what to expect when the government is trying to cool the economy.

“Tucson’s economy does tend to be a bit more stable and the way to think about that is that we don’t quite experience the volatility we don’t get the same highs, but we don’t get the same lows,” said Hammond.

County Administrator Jan Lesher issued the guidelines late last year to help the county through those economic ups and downs.

If the indicators remain in the unfavorable range for two quarters or more, the county may have to take drastic action.

That could mean layoffs, furloughs and cutting of services.

The good news is at this point, it does not appear those actions will be needed any time soon.

“I think the national economy is going to slow significantly as we go through 2023,” Hammond said. “The interest rate increases will mean slower growth here in Arizona but probably not a recession.”