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Introducing the Economic Monitor and exploring employment as an indicator of economic health

Published: 04/21/2023
Updated: 07/27/2023

Kristen Stephenson highlights the employment indicator in the Economic Monitor

by Kristen Stephenson

On April 17, 2023, GPEC launched the Economic Monitor, a comprehensive web tool designed to provide timely, actionable insights into the state of the economy. Through an exploration of key economic indicators, the Economic Monitor offers a concise picture of health at both national and regional levels.

Each month I plan to highlight one of the indicators from the Monitor and share in greater detail what the metric measures, why it matters to the economy and what the current numbers are telling us, beginning with employment.


What does this metric measure?

The number of people that are employed within the civilian population. This data is based on the Current Population Survey for the U.S. and the Local Area Unemployment Survey for Arizona, which survey households on their employment status.

Why does this metric matter?

It is used to measure the labor force status of civilians, and through that we can get the national unemployment rate and labor force participation rate. This survey is conducted in conjunction with the Current Employment Survey, which surveys employers on their hiring and payrolls. Together these tell the story of the overall job picture and are useful to determine the overall health of the economy.

What do the current numbers say?

The jobs picture has been remarkably strong for the last year. Continued job growth has dropped unemployment to near record level lows and has kept it there. Nationally, the civilian employed population grew from 157.6 million to 160.3 million year-over-year. In Arizona it grew from 3.45 million to 3.52 million. Employment growth in Arizona has outpaced the national numbers, with a growth of 2.1% year over year compared to 1.7% for the U.S. (Feb-Feb).

Nationally, growth eased up in March, with total nonfarm employment coming in slightly below the consensus forecast, albeit still with positive growth. March numbers did include the impact of some of the major tech layoffs, however the banking situation was still developing as the March survey was conducted meaning the full impact won’t be felt until subsequent job numbers are released. March employment numbers released yesterday for Arizona show a very slight decrease in nonfarm employment and a slight increase in civilian employment; while this could be an indicator that the jobs market is beginning to cool off, signs point to a soft landing.

To see these employment trends mapped alongside 14 other key indicators of health, visit We hope you find the Monitor a valuable tool in understanding the ever-changing economic landscape.

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