AZ expected to gain 500,000-plus jobs, 1 million residents by 2026

Originally published on AZ Central. Click here to download the PDF.

As Arizona employers complain that it’s getting more difficult to fill openings, many are now offering
enhanced incentives to attract workers. Wochit

Arizona’s job growth is expected to outpace the nation over the next several years, and most of the gains will occur in metropolitan Phoenix, a report released Thursday forecasts.

The state’s population also is expected to grow by 1 million residents over the same time period.

Arizona will add nearly 543,000 net new jobs through 2026, based on a 10-year estimate from the state Office of Economic Opportunity that includes this year and last.

The 1.7 percent annual growth rate for the state is higher than the projected 0.7 percent average annual job additions for the United States through 2026.

Arizona’s population, estimated at 7.1 million this year, is projected to increase to 8.1 million by 2026, with metropolitan Phoenix rising from around 4.8 million to 5.5 million by 2026.

However, Arizona’s job gains aren’t likely to match the higher growth experienced by the state during the

Other key findings from the report:

-Maricopa County, especially in suburban areas, could see the fastest growth, with employment increases estimated at 2.1 percent annually.

-That number excludes Phoenix, which is expected to increase jobs at a 1.5 percent clip.

-Yavapai County also is projected to grow employment by 2.1 percent annually, matching the fastest pace within the state.

-All of Maricopa County, including Phoenix, will increase jobs at a 1.8 percent annual pace, according to the projection.

-Maricopa County could account for 75 percent of all Arizona job gains through 2026, with the rest of the state accounting for the remaining 25 percent.

Growth up from past decade
The projection, made with help from the U.S. Department of Labor, is “heavily driven by historical data and patterns,” said Doug Walls, research administrator for the Office of Economic Opportunity.

The projection “assumes long-term employment patterns will continue in most industries,” he added

The state’s projected growth pace would represent a big improvement from actual growth for the decade ended in 2016, which was marked by one of the steepest recessions ever. That decade averaged just 0.2 percent annually.

The job estimates include those for self-employed workers and agricultural laborers.

Job gains by sector
Health care and education, two already large sectors, are expected to create the highest number of new jobs by 2026 in Arizona. Construction, still recovering from the housing slump of the past decade, is projected to grow at the fastest clip among major sectors, at 3 percent.

Fast-growing health jobs could include home health aides, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and physical therapy aides.

The projection didn’t break out job totals by expected wages, but several sectors are showing gains in both areas. For example, 56 of 71 health care occupations in Arizona pay above the overall state median wage of $17.45 an hour.

“We’re seeing fast growth and above-average wages in health care,” Walls said.

Government and natural resources, including mining, could see some of the smallest job gains through 2026, the report said.