Tucson 3rd in U.S. for job growth … Wait, never mind!

By GABRIELLA VUKELIC

Arizona Sonora News

It was a news release guaranteed to get the attention of any local news-assignment editor:  As the economic jobs picture improves nationally, Tucson was ranked No. 3 nationally, with 4.2 percent employment growth in July, according to federal government data.

You may have read that, but here’s the follow-up. By August, Tucson tumbled entirely off the top-10 list. In August, growth fell at 2.3 percent, and the lackluster tend has continued into the fall.

(Courtesy of Bloomberg)
(Courtesy of Bloomberg)

In a Bloomberg report, Tucson experienced a growth of 4.2 percent in July that featured on a Top 10 list of mid-sized growing cities in the nation, according to chief economist Jed Kolko at Indeed.

But due to a decrease in manufacturing and financial activities, to name a few, Tucson was bumped from third place, still remaining in the Top 25.

Metro Tucson did better than last year with an increase in government jobs, medical jobs, and financial activities such as bankers and real estate agents but based on the preliminary data, the city is being a little optimistic, George Hammond, economic and business research center director and research professor at the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management, said.

“Education is really important; people should have a Bachelor’s degree or better which has led to faster growth over the last thirty years,” Hammond said. “Small businesses and government jobs are both doing well and I can’t say that one is better than the other.”

However, he predicts with more government jobs during the 2017-18 year, metro Tucson will grow at a faster pace.

Tucson was named one of the poorest cities in the U.S. in 2015. Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild’s goal while in office was to focus on the poverty level and made education a large factor in finding solutions.

“Success doesn’t happen until you’ve had failure,” Rothschild said in an interview.

He wanted Tucson to be recognized as a Top 25 city which led to the development of Downtown Tucson.

For successful job growth in Tucson, “Tucson’s Five T’s” needed to be accelerated, which are technology, transportation, trade, teaching, and tourism.

Tucsonans wait at the Sun Link streetcar stop on University Boulevard at Tyndall Avenue on Monday, Oct. 24, 2016. According Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, "Tucson's five T's," technology, transportation, trade, teaching and tourism need to be nourished in order for jobs to grow. (Photo by Gabriella Vukelic / Arizona Sonora News)
Tucsonans wait at the Sun Link streetcar stop on University Boulevard at Tyndall Avenue on Monday, Oct. 24, 2016. According Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, “Tucson’s five T’s,” technology, transportation, trade, teaching and tourism need to be nourished in order for jobs to grow. (Photo by Gabriella Vukelic / Arizona Sonora News)

Job growth in Tucson started with engineers, home goods, roads including the I-10 and I-19, Comcast’s international call center, and the UA’s technical rise.

Bigger projects such as Tesla Motors, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, which came to Tucson in 1938, and Raytheon Missile Systems, which came in 1950, also contributed to Tucson’s third-place national ranking.

Tesla came to Tucson in 2015 with a $21 million package which has also helped the UA, Pima, Tucson Electric Power Company, and the Tucson Water Department. Bigger projects such as these typically got to Phoenix first but Tucson was chosen to be in the final three list of locations Tesla wanted to invest in.

Mike Varney, president and CEO of the Tucson Metro Chamber, said their job is to help businesses become successful and act as a problem solver for the companies that already exist as well as make it easier for businesses to come to Tucson.

The Tucson Metro Chamber has worked on projects for job growth such as Earn to Learn and a partnership with the Tucson Unified School District on automotive internships that has led students to auto-technical jobs.

Varney said Downtown, Tucson improved dramatically in the past five years and the topic of discussion in the next few years will be how they plan to grow beyond their success so far.

“The community will continue to grow as baby boomers continue to retire but I see Downtown expanding vertically instead of horizontally,” Varney said, meaning he views Downtown’s population growing based on job increase not based on the community growing larger. 

Download high resolution images here.

gabbyGabriella is a journalism major and a communication-eSociety minor who wants to pursue a career in online journalism at a news outlet in Manhattan. She is from Massapequa, New York and loves to bake in her free time.

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