Unemployment stuck at 10.9%

KINGMAN - Mohave County's unemployment rate remained unchanged in November, despite that month being the typical time many retail businesses see a seasonal bump in employment for the holiday shopping season.

According to the Arizona Department of Commerce, unemployment in the Lake Havasu-Kingman metropolitan statistical area stood at 10.7 percent in November, or 10.9 percent when adjusted for seasonal shifts.

Those rates remain exactly the same as the prior month and a full point above the same period last year.

November saw an unusual lack of activity on the jobs front, with both the civilian labor force and the total number of employed remaining virtually the same, at 92,100 and 82,300, respectively.

While several non-farm job sectors did post some growth for the month, that growth was apparently offset by a similar drop in the agricultural sector, leaving the total number of employed unchanged.

Total non-farm payroll employment rose from 46,700 in October to 47,200 in November, an increase of about 500 jobs. Not surprisingly, the retail trade sector posted the biggest gains, adding 300 employees to their rolls for the holidays. The education and health services sector also saw a small gain of about 100 jobs, while state and local government, which includes public schools, added 200 jobs.

The only non-farm sector to post a net job loss for the month was the mining and construction sector, which shed 100 employees, falling to 2,600. All other non-farm sectors, including manufacturing, information, finance, hospitality and professional services, remained static.

When averaged out over the past year, most job sectors have seen few, if any, meaningful shifts in one direction or another through 2010. The federal government sector was the sole outlier, having doubled its total number of employees for the U.S. Census in spring before shrinking back to its traditional level of about 500 employees once the census was complete.

Mohave County continues to hold one of the highest unemployment rates of any major metropolitan area in the state outside of Yuma County, where the transitory agricultural workforce there produces typical unemployment rates of more than 20 percent. Yuma topped the state once again in November, posting a staggering unemployment rate of 26.8 percent, a 1.1 percent increase from October.

In fact, most major metro areas in the state saw their unemployment rate rise in November, even as the statewide rate decreased slightly. Phoenix saw its rate rise from 8.4 to 8.9 percent, Tucson from 8.3 to 8.8, Flagstaff from 7.8 to 8.1, and Prescott from 9.7 to 10.2. The state rate, meanwhile, fell from 9.5 to 9.4 percent, putting it a fraction below the nationwide average of 9.8 percent.

Nevada continues to hold the nation's highest unemployment rate at 14.3 percent, while North Dakota maintains the lowest at just 3.8 percent.