Arizona is positioned for a faster economic recovery than the rest of the nation, and with some strategic moves on the part of state policymakers and citizens, it should jump back to a leading spot within next year or so, according to local economists.
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“We have the chance for this to be one of the best decades ever, but it’s going to take more work to be in the top five again in terms of economic activity,” said Jim Rounds, president of Rounds Consulting Group, Inc.
“If we can avoid a significant surge in the outbreak as we go through the fall and winter months, I think we’ll continue on a gradual recovery trajectory like a Nike Swoosh type recovery, getting us back to where we were before the pandemic by mid 2021 or in the second half,” he said.
Tough Lessons from Great Recession
Prior to the pandemic, Arizona ranked in the top five in the nation for personal income growth, job growth, population growth and overall economic activity. Much of that growth was due to policy decisions made after Arizona’s economy tanked during the Great Recession of 2008, both economists said.
University of Arizona economist George Hammond says the most important step moving forward is for Arizonans to stay masked, socially distanced and sanitized. Hammond directs the university’s Economic and Business Research Center at the Eller College of Management.
In clawing its way back, the state put several economic pillars in place. One was Governor Doug Ducey’s $1B rainy day fund that has proven its worth during the pandemic.
The state’s competitive tax rates, business-friendly regulatory environment and investment in workforce training and education also have helped put Arizona in a better position than other states, Rounds said.
Arizona Jobs’ Picture Better than Nation
Currently, Arizona is No. 3 in the country in terms of jobs growth.
Arizona’s healthier data is in part due to it being one of the fastest growing states before COVID-19 hit. Industries like construction and remote retail have stayed strong. Gov. Ducey’s early and gradual reopening of the economy also contributed to jobs and economic growth, Hammond said.
Strategy Moving Forward
A state economic jobs package would be a good step forward to help reskill society, Rounds said.
Another measure that could stimulate recovery would be state assistance for the tourism industry, the hardest hit large sector, Rounds said.