But new job growth is only one metric by which Arizona topped the U.S. economy over the past seven years, according to State Economic Snapshotsassembled by the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress.
Since January 2009, Arizona gained a net 201,600 jobs, despite an unemployment rate remaining consistently around a percentage point above the U.S. average. Since February 2010, the national low-point for private sector employment, Arizona added nearly 324,000 jobs for a 16.5 percent increase. The biggest increase in jobs was 31.3 percent in information services followed by a 22.7 percent increase in financial activities.
The JEC reports that Arizona’s current unemployment rate is about half what it was at the trough of the recession, 11.2 percent in December 2009.
The return in jobs reflects lower-paying employment both locally and nationally. Across the nation, the median household income dropped $3,700 to $53,700 between 2007 — before the recession — and 2014, the most recent year for which data is available. In Arizona, the median dropped $4,600 to $49,300 from $53,900 in 2007. Arizona also scored higher than the U.S. with a poverty rate jumping nearly 50 percent since 2007 to 21.2 percent of the population, compared to an 18 percent increase nationally.
Arizona does much better than the national average when it comes to employing veterans, with JEC reporting Arizona veterans having a 3.7 percent unemployment rate in April 2016, compared to the state’s overall 5.5 percent unemployment rate. Nationally, the U.S. has a 4.6 percent veteran unemployment rate.
Arizona also experienced a 21 percent drop in the number of people without health insurance between 2013 and 2014, a rate that was slightly better than the 20 percent drop nationally.