Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

City, state fare better than rest of nation

Citizen Staff

So says Wells Fargo executive Sung Won Sohn. He also sees some job growth in 2003.



Arizona’s and Tucson’s economies have fared better than the nation’s and will see some job growth in 2003 and 2004, said Sung Won Sohn, chief economic officer and an executive vice president with Wells Fargo Bank.

The key will be to create higher-paying jobs, something for which the state has a strong base.

“We’ve been creating service jobs, but the per capita income is below the national average,” Sohn said at the bank’s Economic Outlook 2003 at The Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa yesterday.

“You have fairly good infrastructure. You have optics at the UA, defense, aerospace . . . I think it will be successful in the future creation of high-paying jobs.”

Sohn said it is too early to tell how much of an impact genomics and biotechnology will have on the state’s economy.

“Almost every other community is going to say the same thing (about biotech),” he said.

He added that San Diego is the leader in terms of the number of (biotech) firms, and Dallas is saying it wants to be a leader in the life sciences and is putting money into it.

The question, he said, is. how will Arizona compete with Seattle, Dallas, San Diego?

And if it’s successful, will it create a significant number of jobs?

One strong point of the economy is our housing costs when compared to other regions.

“(Nationally) house prices have gone up so much, many companies are thinking about relocating and expanding . . . . We have a low cost of living, lower housing costs that are more affordable, and that is an economic development tool.”

The job growth Sohn spoke about didn’t happen in February, according to Department of Economic Security statistics released yesterday.

Pima County’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate climbed one-tenth of a percent to 4.2 percent compared to January, but was seven-tenths of a percent lower than February 2002′s 4.9 percent.

Statewide, the rate grew two-tenths of a percent to 5.7 percent, likely because prewar jitters caused employers to postpone hiring, DES officials said.

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