State unemployment rate uncertain during pandemic

By Howard Fischer | Capitol Media Services

Arizona added 30,200 new jobs last month.

But the question of what that means in an unemployment rate is a little less certain.

On paper, the state Office of Economic Opportunity puts the seasonally adjusted jobless rate for September at 6.7%. That follows a 5.9% figure for August and 10.7% the month before.

What’s causing these wild swings is not the number of people working. It’s the number of people not working but reportedly looking.

The way the state figures it, another 151,727 people joined the workforce between August and September. That includes both those working — a figure that did not change markedly — and those who said they are looking.

But the month before the workforce figure dropped 151,220.

So what’s going on? More to the point, are these swings real?

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