Job market looking good for Tucson

(Source: Tucson News Now)
(Source: Tucson News Now)
Updated: May. 17, 2018 at 6:00 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The latest jobs numbers show the state of Arizona staying the same at 4.9 percent but Tucson, it appears, is doing a bit better these days.

"The labor market is certainly much better than it was in 2013 to 2015 when we were barely growing at all," said U of A Economist George Hammond. "I think that's going to continue for the next couple of years."

That's in part because Tucson has announced thousands of new jobs coming to town, some immediately, and others, like Amazon, will be in the near future.

Amazon announced it will hire 1,500 workers for it's new 850,000 square foot fulfillment center which will be built at Kolb and Valencia.

And more are likely to follow for a couple of reasons according to Hammond.

"Other companies read the papers too, nationwide," he said. "They're interested in what Amazon's doing."

And if those companies see Amazon and Caterpillar setting up shop in Tucson, they may follow.

"If Amazon is seeing the good qualities in Tucson, perhaps other firms will consider giving a closer look than they otherwise might," he said. "So it's certainly a good thing."

The best indicator of the market is to ask the people who are looking for work, like Lorrie Jackson, who is switching careers.

She has 20 years nursing experience and ten years of customer service and at 58 years of age, wants to move into something else.

"I have a lot to offer, especially my experience," she said.

She says she's been on ten interviews, been called back on some, but can afford to be a bit choosy.

"It's not like it was in the past when you just took a job to have one," she said. "The right one will come along."

TUSD sent three of its bus drivers to Pima County's One-Stop Job Center to find possible new hires for 50 bus driver vacancies.

When asked how many people they interviewed, "Zero today, today zero," said Robert Yslava.

He says usually they get five or more in a day but now, more people are working so they're harder to find.

A possible solution he suggests, "maybe they will have to pay more," he said.

And Hammond thinks that will be the result of a tighter labor market too.

"I think the job growth, the tightening labor market, will start to drive wage gains so people will see fatter paychecks," he said. "That will drive some retail spending."

One thing to watch, and one thing that could be of concern in an expanding labor market is the price of housing.

"If the housing prices continue to rise faster than incomes, faster than we see nationally, that will be a concern," he said. "But I don't think we're quite there yet."

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