Report: Most Arizona Jobs Are In Lower-Paying Positions

July 19, 2013

A new report sketches out where the job openings will be in Arizona over the next two years.

And, even though the state is turning out some 24,000 college graduates a year, the report says three-quarters of the available jobs will go to people with a high school diploma or less. State Economist Aruna Murthy says that's higher than the national average, but the trend toward jobs that do not pay well is growing here. ASU economist Dennis Hoffman says it's a classic chicken-and-egg situation.

“It is a worry if we don't have enough job opportunities here, the students we're educating in this state are going to leave,” Hoffman said.

Rick Myers, who chairs the state Board of Regents, backs plans to increase the number of college grads to 30,000 by 2020, calling that a key to boosting the economy, attracting higher-paying jobs and dealing with the state's lackluster personal incomes, compared with other states. Arizona's per capita income of just under $36,000 a year, ranks the state 41st in the nation, down from 32nd five years ago.

“To me, it's all about per capita income,” Myers said. “If we can't create higher per capita income in the state, we're not going to have the tax base to support the people of the state the way we want. And we're not going to have the dollars flowing in the economy for the economic vitality that we all want.”

Murthy says there is evidence Arizona's economy will actually need more people with technical skills instead of four-year degrees.  She says the data show many Arizonans are earning $50,000 or more with just a trade school education. 

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