County not spared effects of recession

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Posted: Tuesday, December 25, 2012 12:00 am

The national recession began in December 2007 and ended in June 2009. Cochise County, although somewhat buffered by Fort Huachuca and associated high levels of federal spending, was impacted along with the rest of the state and nation. Although declines locally weren’t as steep as those statewide, the state economy began recovering earlier and has generally seen stronger rebounds.

In May 2007, Cochise County’s unemployment rate was 3.4 percent, compared to 3.5 percent statewide and 4.4 percent nationally. The county rate rose steadily for four years, peaking at 9.2 percent in April 2011. Statewide, Arizona’s unemployment rate peaked at 10.8 percent, where it remained for several months in late 2009 and early 2010. Nationally, unemployment topped out at 10 percent in October 2009.

Unemployment rates began to decline at the state and national levels while continuing to rise in Cochise County. Nationally, unemployment began to improve in November 2009. Statewide rates began to come down in April 2010; while countywide unemployment did not begin to decline until May 2011. As of October this year, unemployment was 7.9 percent nationally and 8.1 percent at the state and county levels.

The number of jobs in Cochise County peaked in June 2008 (excludes agriculture and active duty military). Jobs in July this year were down 8.7 percent from the peak, though some of that may be due to seasonal fluctuations. In October this year, countywide jobs were down by 2,300, or 5.9 percent, from October 2006. Statewide, the number of jobs in October this year was down by 7.9 percent from the October peak in 2007.

In Cochise County, the number of jobs each month was down, compared to the same month a year prior, in 34 of 35 months from January 2009 through November 2011. From December last year through October this year, the number of jobs was up in seven of 11 months, though growth rates have been very low—less than 1 percent.

Statewide, the decline in employment began and ended a year earlier with the number of jobs each month down for 33 consecutive months from February 2008 through October 2010. Jobs have been up, however, for 24 consecutive months from November 2010 through October this year.

Retail sales in Cochise County began to decline in 2007, prior to the national recession. Annual inflation-adjusted sales fell for five consecutive years from 2007 through 2011. Retail sales countywide in 2011 were down 15.8 percent from the peak in 2007, after adjusting for inflation. Although retail sales began to recover in the first nine months of this year, sales were up only 2 percent, after inflation, compared to the same period last year, remaining well below 2007 levels.

Statewide, retail sales fell for only three consecutive years, though the declines were steeper than in Cochise County. Although statewide sales in 2011 were up 7.1 percent from 2010, after inflation, they were still down more than 20 percent from 2007. In the first nine months of this year, Arizona’s retail sales were up 1.7 percent from the same period of 2011, still nearly 20 percent below their level in 2007.

Annual restaurant and bar sales in Cochise County were mostly flat from 2007 through 2011. Sales in 2011 were up 0.3 percent from 2007. In the first nine months of this year, however, sales were down 4.2 percent and were on track to finish the year nearly 4 percent below 2007 levels.

Statewide, restaurant and bar sales declined in 2008 and 2009 during the recession, but have seen modest growth since then. Despite that, sales in 2011 were down 8 percent from 2007 after adjusting for inflation. Sales in the first nine months of this year were up 5.2 percent from last year and were on track to narrow the gap since 2007 to below 3 percent.

Cochise County’s accommodation sales, which include hotel, motel, and RV park stays of less than 30 days, were up slightly in 2008—the first year of the national recession—and were up again in 2010 by nearly 9 percent. Sales in 2011, however, were down more than 13 percent. Countywide accommodation sales in 2011 were down 14.3 percent from 2007 levels after the inflation adjustment. In the first nine months of this year, Cochise County’s accommodation sales were down 16.3 percent and were on track to finish the year nearly 30 percent below 2007 levels.

At the state level, accommodation sales declined during the recessionary years of 2008 and 2009 but have seen modest growth since then. In 2011, Arizona accommodation sales remained nearly 23 percent below 2007 levels with only modest growth of less than 2 percent in the first nine months of this year.

Last year was the 6th consecutive year of decline for new home permits both in Cochise County and statewide. There were 319 home permits issued countywide last year, down about 8 percent from 2010. Last year’s permits were down more than 70 percent from the peak in 2005 and were at their lowest levels since 1991. Statewide, single-family residential permits last year were down 4.2 percent from 2010 and were down 87.2 percent from the 2005 peak.

Dr. Robert Carreirais director of the Center for Economic Research at Cochise College. If you have questions, contact the CER at (520) 515-5486 or cer@cochise.edu [1]. Visit CER’s website at www.cochise.edu/cer [2].

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