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Affordable Care Act leads to growth in health care jobs

In this 2009 file photo, a White House nurse prepares to give President Barack Obama a flu vaccination. (Photo by Pete Souza/White House)

In this 2009 file photo, a White House nurse prepares to give President Barack Obama a flu vaccination. (Photo by Pete Souza/White House)

The state’s jobless rate ticked up one-tenth of a point last month, to 7.0 percent, amid lackluster overall growth of jobs in the private sector and sharp but seasonally expected declines in employment in public education.

And it might have been worse except for one thing: the federal Affordable Care Act.

Aruna Murthy, director of economic analysis for the state Department of Administration, noted that employment growth in the state’s health care industry grew by 1,500 between June and July. And there are 10,100 more people working in that sector of the economy now than a year ago.

Put another way, 15 percent of the total year-over-year job growth in Arizona was in health care. And the vast majority of that, Murthy said, was in employment at doctor’s offices, clinics and other ambulatory care centers.

The employment numbers come amid a report by the Gallup organization showing the number of people who lack insurance has dropped.

That organization said about 20.4 percent of Arizonans lacked health coverage before the Affordable Care Act went into effect this year. The most recent number is 17.2 percent, with Gallup ranking the drop as 19th among all the states.

“Essentially what that’s telling us is, as the number of insured people increase we anticipate continued increase in the demand for ambulatory services,” Murthy said.

She also said that hospital employment is up by 2,600 year-over-year. Yet the number of people working in nursing and residential care facilities – services not really part of the Affordable Care Act – was up by just 500.

On the flip side of the employment picture, Murthy said the state’s construction industry, once considered on the rebound, shed 1,100 jobs last month. And overall construction employment is 6,200 less than what it was in July 2013.

And the softest spot within that industry is building construction, including homes, apartments and commercial structures.

Murthy said the trend in Arizona is just the opposite of what is happening nationwide. But she said there may be relief on the horizon, with increased housing starts.

“So we have to wait and see over time, down the road, if construction will pick up.

Unemployment rates

(Not seasonally adjusted unless otherwise stated)

Area July 2014 June 2014 July 2013
Arizona (seas. adj.) 7.00% 6.90% 8.10%
Arizona 7.40% 7.50% 8.10%
U.S. (seas. adj.) 6.20% 6.10% 7.30%
Apache 17.80% 17.80% 21.10%
Cochise 8.70% 8.90% 9.20%
Coconino 7.50% 7.60% 8.30%
Gila 8.30% 8.60% 9.20%
Graham 7.70% 7.50% 7.90%
Greenlee 7.20% 7.10% 6.40%
La Paz 9.30% 9.60% 9.30%
Maricopa 6.20% 6.40% 7.10%
Mohave 8.40% 8.60% 9.90%
Navajo 13.20% 13.10% 16.10%
Pima 6.60% 6.90% 7.50%
Pinal 7.80% 8.70% 9.20%
Santa Cruz 17.50% 15.20% 21.00%
Yavapai 6.80% 7.10% 8.30%
Yuma 29.20% 27.00% 31.80%
Source: Arizona Department of Administration

Sector employment in 1,000s

Sector employment in 1,000s
Sector July 2014 Change in last month
Total nonfarm 2,507.80 (-10.4)
Private sector 2,144.10 0.2
Manufacturing 156.5 (-.01)
Natural resources & mining 13.8 0.2
Construction 120 (-1.1)
Trade, transportation, utilities 486.8 2.6
Information 42.2 0.2
Financial activities 192 (-1.2)
Professional & business services 381.1 1.5
Private education & health services 384.2 1.1
Leisure & hospitality 279.5 (-3.9)
Other services 88 0.9
Government (including public education) 363.7 (-10.6)
Source: Arizona Department of Administration

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