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Arizona unemployment rate for May hits 8.2 percent

Arizona’s unemployment rate jumped by a half-percentage point in May as nearly all the state’s economic sectors recorded job losses and many people left temporary positions in business and government, the Commerce Department reported June 18.

The state’s seasonally adjusted nonfarm unemployment rate rose to 8.2 percent, up from 7.7 percent in April and 5.2 percent in May 2008.

Arizona’s half-point increase in May matched a same-sized increase in the national rate, which rose to 9.4 percent in May from 8.9 percent in April.

Overall, the state lost 21,300 non-farm jobs in May, with about 90 percent of those in service-providing industries, according to the Commerce Department.

Arizona’s unemployment rate was nearly unchanged in April, but the May rate increase and preliminary figures for June unemployment benefit applications show continued weakness in the state’s economy, officials said.

“This does appear to continue a trend,” said Lisa Danko, Commerce assistant deputy director for finance and investment.

One sector, business and professional services, lost 9,600 jobs, close to half of the May total. The department attributed much of those losses to the end of temporary jobs associated with the tax-filing season.

Governments lost 5,500 jobs in May, with temporary U.S. Census positions accounting for much of the 2,300-job drop in federal employment, the department said. State government lost 2,400 jobs and local governments lost 800.

The 1,500 jobs lost by construction in May represented the 21st consecutive month of losses for that high-profile sector, which has been hit hard by the housing industry’s collapse. Since a year ago, construction has lost 54,500 jobs, or 28.2 percent.

Nine of the 11 sectors tracked by the department lost jobs, with information gaining 300 jobs, including 100 in telecommunications. The natural resources and mining sector didn’t gain or lose jobs in May but was still down 2,700 jobs from a year earlier.

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