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UA research says economy is on the rise

By Arek Sarkissian II
Arizona Summer Wildcat
Wednesday July 16, 2003

Estimates released by the Arizona Department of Economic Security in March show that the statewide recession is over, according to officials from the UA office of Economic and Business Research.

The findings, which were compiled by a team headed by Economic and Business Research Director Marshall Vest, show that the job base in Arizona has been growing over the past year. Vest is also the director of the Forecasting Project, which provides general economic forecasts and analyses to the public and the news media, and detailed forecasts to government and private business sponsors.

However, according to Maile Nadelhoffer, research specialist for the Forecasting Project, growth won't be as strong as it was in the 1990s.

Vest, who is also known as one of UA's survivors of the World Trade Center disaster, could not be reached for comment prior to publication of this article.

One of the aspects that pulled Arizona out of the rut that much of the nation is still in is the continued population growth, more specifically growth in personal income.

Nadelhoffer said her office expects income growth to rise to more than 6 percent in 2004 and more than 7 percent in 2005.

"That's an improvement since we were only at 4.7 (in 2002) for growth," she said.

Another release on the restraint felt by the booming state economy was news of the war in Iraq, and also memories of last year's corporate accounting scandals.

"There's still some uncertainty, but things have calmed down," she said.

According to an article published by Vest in the Arizona's Economy newsletter, federal payrolls have seen the sharpest increase so far, by 1,600 jobs. Vest accredited this increase to the increased focus on homeland security and security in airports.

However, the modest growth of the economy is led by construction, and retail jobs related to homebuilding.

However, the once booming manufacturing industry continues to plummet, which Vest blamed on the once booming new computer and electric product market.

Sonia Economou, a senior coordinator for the computer science department, said she has seen a definite decrease in the industry, as reflected by the rate at which recent graduates have been hired.

"Now students get out and do not have jobs," she said. "But two years ago almost all of them found something."

Economou said that she and her colleagues have also noticed a decline in the entry-level pay for computer science graduates.

Two years ago pay ranged from $50,000 $65,000; today it ranges from $40,000 $55,000.

Also falling in the manufacturing industry were fabricated metal products and aerospace.


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