How are we doing?
Growth Rate of Total NonFarm Employment (2021)
In 2021, total nonfarm employment for the Tucson Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) increased by 1.6%. That was an improvement from the decline in 2020 of 4.5% due to jobs lost during the pandemic. In comparison, Phoenix’s employment increased by 4.1%, and statewide jobs increased by 3.6%. When compared to peer western metropolitan statistical areas, Tucson’s job gains fell at the bottom, ranking last. Las Vegas posted the largest gain in employment at 7.5%. Las Vegas was hit especially hard by the pandemic in 2020 due to its large share of jobs in leisure & hospitality. While Tucson’s job gains in 2021 were slow, the recovery has begun and prospects look brighter for 2022. To view the preliminary monthly job data for Tucson, visit the award-winning Arizona’s Economy online magazine or download the free Arizona’s Economy smartphone app.
Why is it important?
The rate at which total employment changes is a key indicator of the overall performance of an economy. Employment growth reflects a region’s ability to generate jobs, income, and economic opportunities for those living in that region. Slow job growth can lead to increases in unemployment, reduced wages for those employed, and a decline in overall economic growth. Employment growth, subdivided by industry, informs us what industries dominate the employment mix and how that mix is changing over time.
How do we compare?
Tucson posted a 1.6% increase in employment from 2020 to 2021, an improvement over the job losses during the beginning of the pandemic. Arizona’s increase in total nonfarm employment of 3.6% far surpassed Tucson and was the fourth-highest among western states. Arizona’s job gains were driven mostly by the Phoenix MSA which posted a 4.1% increase in 2021. New Mexico posted the slowest growth in employment of the western states at 1.7%, while Nevada had the fastest at 6.8%. Nevada, like Las Vegas, was hit especially hit by the pandemic in 2020 due to the large share of jobs in leisure & hospitality.
What are the key trends?
Total employment growth in the Tucson MSA was slow to rebound from the 2008 – 2009 recession. However, employment growth in Tucson picked up in 2019 to 2.3%. That was the fastest growth posted since prior to the 2008-2009 recession. Employment growth then rapidly declined in 2020 due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Tucson’s loss of 4.5% in 2020 was slightly better than the national loss of 5.8%. In 2021, Tucson’s job growth increased by 1.6%, while that was slower than the state or the nation, it’s important to remember that job growth in Tucson prior to the pandemic was strong and that the recovery has begun.
How is it measured?
Employment by industry is estimated based on a survey of employers. It reflects the number of jobs at establishments located within an area. An individual that works at two separate establishments during a year will be counted twice. Employment data come from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Current Employment Statistics (CES). The CES collects monthly survey data on employment, hours, and earnings of workers on nonfarm payroll. All military data come from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA).