Telling It Like It Is About Tucson’s Jobs

By D. Viking

On October 24, 2016 I wrote an article that was published in the ADI which proved that Sharon Bronson’s reelection campaign’s claims of great job growth for Tucson weren’t based on any hard data. In today’s terms, Bronson’s assertions were fake news. To investigate her claims I queried gov’t and other databases and disproved these claims of hers in just a few minutes of research – research that the Arizona Daily Star was apparently too lazy or too biased to perform.

At any rate, I did more research this past week on my own as a registered independent to see how Tucson has fared compared to other cities in the Intermountain West and Southwest in recovering from the Great Recession. I accessed the public databases maintained by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov) and here’s what I found. I’ve listed below each city, the month/year it’s employment peaked before the Great Recession, and the number of months it took for overall employment to return to pre-recession levels. The lower the number of months, the quicker the city recovered its jobs.

City Employment Peak
Month/Year
Months to recover
to pre-recession peak
Tucson 12/2006 Still not reached
Albuquerque 12/2007 Still not reached
El Paso 11/2008 24
Wichita 06/2008 Still not reached
Oklahoma City 11/2008 40
Austin 11/2008 28
Las Vegas 12/2007 100
Reno 12/2006 Still not reached
Spokane 06/2008 88
Billings 07/2008 57
Boise 06/2007 76
Denver 06/2008 46
Colorado Springs 06/2007 83
Salt Lake City 12/2007 58
Phoenix 12/2007 94

Clearly Tucson and Pima County are lagging most of its peers when it comes to recovering and creating new jobs.

It’s bad enough that we still have fewer people working today here in the Tucson metro area than we did 10 years ago. Btu even worse, the number and percentage of Professional & Business Services (P&BS) jobs in the economy here still lags pre-recession levels. P&BS jobs are the good-paying white-collar jobs – the types of jobs most prized by cities.

Below is a table with cities, pre-recession month and year peak for P&BS jobs, their percentage of the economy then, months needed to reach pre-recession peak, and the percentage of the overall workforce that P&BS jobs are now. The higher the percentage, the greater the number of P&BS jobs in the workforce. If a city has a higher percentage of P&BS jobs now than before the recession, then it means that the city is acquiring better-paying jobs. If the percentage of P&BS jobs now is lower than it was before the economic slowdown, then the city is not attracting more P&BS jobs.

City P&BS Jobs Pre-recession peak Pctg P&BS jobs in workforce Months to recover to pre-recession peak Pctg P&BS jobs in workforce as of 12/2016
Tucson 11/2007 13.31% Still not reached 13.31%
Albuquerque 08/2008 16.83% Still not reached 15.04%
El Paso 08/2008 12.84% 98 10.83%
Wichita 8/2008 10.51% 61 11.47%
Oklahoma City 12/2007 13.54% 80 12.26%
Austin 10/2008 14.67% 24 16.84%
Las Vegas 02/2007 12.94% 92 12.87%
Reno 12/2006 13.89% 116 14.23%
Spokane 06/2006 10.38% 75 11.17%
Billings 08/2007 12.07% Still not reached 9.69%
Boise 08/2008 15.77% 99 14.30%
Denver 08/2008 17.49% 44 17.96%
Colorado Springs 07/2008 16.74% 84 15.35%
Salt Lake City 11/2007 16.36% 55 17.67%
Phoenix 11/2007 16.88% 95 17.03%

With results like this why are we paying bonuses to the county administrator? Why are we re-electing supervisors like Sharon Bronson, who’s presided over a decade of lackluster jobs growth and development – leaving this region ranking with Albuquerque as the worst in the interior west? Why are we funding entities like TREO year-after-year and not demanding concrete results? If Denver, Salt Lake City, and Phoenix, and Austin can have both numeric and quality job growth, why not Tucson? It’s time for voters to demand real action from elected officials and those entities funded by the taxpayers to promote economic development.

About Letter to the Editor 353 Articles
Under the leadership of Editor in Chief Huey Freeman, the Editorial Board of the Arizona Daily Independent offers readers an opportunity to comment on current events and the pressing issues of the day. Occasionally, the Board weighs-in on issues of concern for the residents of Arizona and the US.