Initial claims for unemployment insurance in Arizona jumped 41.5 percent in August compared with the same month a year earlier as slower job growth continues to take its toll.
Retail sales fell again in August compared with 2007, but the dip was not as bad as in July, according to this month’s Republic Arizona Economic Snapshot.
Other indicators offered a mix of good and bad news.
• The number of homes sold rose again in August compared with a year earlier, offering hope that the housing market may have bottomed. Although the Arizona Regional Multiple Listing Service’s numbers don’t show September totals yet, one Realtor said last week that 6,136 homes were sold in September, the highest in about two years.
But the median price has fallen back to a level not seen since late 2004, ARMLS says. The housing bubble that started in 2005 may have completely burst, wiping out millions of dollars of equity but also making homes more affordable.
• The total number of non-farm jobs increased slightly in August because of seasonal back-to-school hires, but the Arizona Department of Commerce expects the state to lose almost 2 percent of its jobs this year and next.
• Auto-sales receipts tumbled 30 percent from August 2007 but recorded a slight increase from July.
• Gasoline prices fell for the third straight month in September. The number of gallons of gasoline sold also has been falling and is at the lowest point in at least four years, hurting the state’s Highway User Revenue Fund, which pays for roadway construction and maintenance. Motorists pay 18 cents for every gallon of gas they buy to the fund.
Doug Nintzel, a spokesman for the Arizona Department of Transportation, said people are driving less and using more fuel-efficient vehicles.