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Arizona Outpaces Nation In Post-COVID Private Sector Job Recovery

July 21, 2021 by Brock Blasdell
Even with the population increase in Arizona being among one of the fastest-growing states during the last decade, its 7.1 million population, especially in the Phoenix area shown here, the increase was not enough to give the state a 10th congressional seat announced by the Census Bureau Monday, April 26, 2021. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

According to a recently released economic report by the Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity, the state of Arizona has outpaced the nation in private sector economic recovery post-COVID. In June alone, Arizona added 26,000 private sector jobs to its economy — a rate 17% higher than the national numbers.

Much of this recovery is centered around a blossoming technology manufacturing industry. 

In fact, according to technology reporting firm CompTIA, since 2015, Arizona has added more than 38,000 technology jobs to its economy. This makes Arizona the home of just over 250,000 positions within the tech industry — a level of economic development undoubtedly set to grow even more after a number of recent high-dollar, out-of-state investments. 

In May 2020, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, the largest producer of computer chips in the world, announced a $12 billion investment to build a chip fabrication facility in Phoenix. 

Additionally, Intel, the world’s largest semiconductor chip manufacturer by revenue, invested $20 billion in two advanced semiconductor fabrication facilities in Chandler, Arizona, in March. 

“The high-tech announcements represented by Intel and TSMC are of the type any state dreams of landing,” the Arizona Commerce Authority wrote in a public statement issued this month. “For Arizona, they are part of a robust, diverse and thriving innovation ecosystem that includes emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, automated vehicles, the Internet of Things, freshwater science, renewable energy, quantum computing, smart materials, nanosatellites and electric vehicles.”

These new high-dollar investments are doing more than just making tech journal headlines. Earlier in March, Arizona officially reached the height of its pre-pandemic labor force, and in 2020, Arizonans led the nation in personal income growth. 

The economic recovery and wage growth within Arizona could be considered the reaping of benefits from a system implemented nearly a decade ago. In 2011, the state passed HB2001, a bill which repealed the Arizona Department of Commerce, and created the Arizona Commerce Authority, a coalition of 17 private sector CEOs from the state’s top businesses. 

“In 2011, Arizona faced a true ‘crossroads’ moment. Our economy slumped under the weight of the great recession. State revenue had plummeted. Families and businesses were suffering,” Sandra Watson, president and CEO of the ACA, said recently.

“What came next was unprecedented in our state’s history. Hundreds of stakeholders from the private sector, academia, elected office and more came together to develop a new vision for Arizona’s economy.”

The group’s goal was simple: attract and retain new businesses, and emphasize aerospace and defense, renewable energy and science-technology industries. To achieve that goal, the state proposed a series of tax credits, funding for emerging, successful and high-paying jobs through the Arizona Competes Fund, and opted to lower the corporate tax rate from 6.97% to below 4.9% over the next several years. 

Today, these goals have remained relatively the same, but with a few new additions. Primarily, in the realms of limiting liability for safe and regulated businesses, improving the education to employment pipeline within colleges, promoting infrastructure and improving trade relations abroad. 

“In 2021 — 10 years after the launch of the Arizona Commerce Authority — our economy is diversified across several high-tech industries, with more jobs in manufacturing than construction; our startup ecosystem is attracting global attention; and our state is competing, and winning, at the highest level for economic development projects,” Watson stated.

“Today, Arizona’s diversified, high-tech economy is a resilient economy. Under Gov. Ducey’s leadership, our state has weathered the storm of the past year and opportunity abounds at every turn.”

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