SCOTTSDALE, Ariz., July 23, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Before the recession gripped the nation in December 2007, Arizona was the second-fastest growing state in terms of jobs and population. Employment reached its peak in October of that year, but by September 2010, Arizona had lost more than 300,000 jobs, or 11 percent of the state's job total.
Now, nearly two years after the job market bottomed out, Arizona is looking forward to economic recovery. According to Lee McPheters, director of the JPMorgan Chase Economic Outlook Center at Arizona State University, though recovery is underway, significant economic progress is still on the horizon.
"Jobs recovery is a couple of years away," McPheters said at an Economic Outlook Luncheon earlier this year. "We're making slow but steady progress, but we still have a long way to go."
Of the 314,000 jobs lost from 2007 to 2010, only a quarter have been regained, and although Arizona ranks in the top ten states for current job growth, the boom before the recession meant the state was affected more than most areas of the country.
"Arizona was hit almost twice as hard as the nation was," said McPheters. In an interview with NPR, he acknowledged that for Arizona, 2012 is expected to be a better year than 2011 on every economic scale, but that growth is at a "very, very slow pace compared to what is average or typical for Arizona coming out of a recession."
Local Companies Spurring Job Growth
When Intel announced it would be building a $5 billion plant in Chandler, local economists estimated the project would add thousands of jobs for construction workers, engineers and other employees through 2011 and beyond.
As Chandler's largest employer, Intel already employs more than 10,000 in the city, and companies like this are helping Arizona recover jobs as quickly as possible. McPheters estimates that it will take nearly three more years for Arizona to reach pre-recession employment levels, but that's if the state maintains or improves its current growth rate.
Large corporations based in Arizona certainly help improve job opportunities, but it's smaller, private companies that often fuel the economic progress of the state. In fact, a 2011 report from the Small Business Administration revealed that quarter-by-quarter, small businesses – fewer than 500 employees – added more job opportunities than large businesses 75 percent of the time from 1992 through 2010.
Companies like Blue Global Media, an online product development firm, have consistently added high-quality, tech-savvy job opportunities to the state, even when the economy is in flux. In 2007, the company employed five people; four years later, after making the 2011 Inc. 500 List of Fastest-Growing Private Companies, Blue Global Media had more than 30 employees.
The company, now with nearly 50 employees, expects to add 25 more jobs through the end of 2012, putting annual employee growth at more than 100 percent. The company is currently hiring call center representatives, web designers, programmers and various online marketing professionals.
"Over the years, we've consistently added quality job opportunities in the Phoenix area, and 2012 has been no different," said Chris Kay, CEO of Blue Global Media. "We continue to focus on attracting talent in the state, and adding valuable jobs at a time when they're in demand."
Young, tech-savvy companies like Blue Global Media often bring the most opportunity to early-career professionals, the demographic that has the most trouble finding employment. According to government figures, nearly 13 percent of adults from 18 – 29 were unemployed in June 2012. For young professionals, the opportunities created by companies like Blue Global Media are accessible, lucrative and capable of sparking long careers in tech-related industries.
Creating Sustainable, Long-Term Jobs
While Intel and Blue Global Media are on opposite sides of the business size spectrum, plenty of mid-sized companies, such as Scottsdale's Go Daddy, which employs 3,300 people, round out Arizona employment. Together, small, midsized and large businesses are doing their part to bring Arizona employment levels back to where they were in 2007 by creating sustainable jobs.
According to Blue Global Media Human Resources Director Neely Tubati, companies like Blue Global Media are up to the task of improving Arizona's employment not just by creating jobs, but founding careers.
"As a company that's growing so quickly, we pride ourselves on hiring talented, adaptable employees that can cope with an ever-changing environment," Tubati said. "Not only are we creating valued positions, we've been able to create long-term career paths. That is something not every company can say."
If Lee McPheters is right, Arizona will recover its lost jobs by mid-decade. But if Arizona businesses continue to focus on resiliency, innovation and expansion, pre-recession employment levels could be closer than expected for a state used to being a front-runner in job growth.
SOURCE Blue Global Media