Arizona Economic Overview

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Sandra Watson
President and CEO, Arizona Commerce Authority


Arizona celebrated many accomplishments over the past year, and as we move into 2016 our state’s economic outlook is positive. During fiscal year 2015, the Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA) successfully closed 120 projects representing 18,314 projected jobs with average wages of approximately $51,809 and $1.51 billion in capital investment.

In November, Arizona’s unemployment rate fell from 6.1 percent to 6.0 percent, according to the latest report from the Arizona Office of Employment Statistics. Over the last 12 months, Arizona employers have added jobs at a 2.5 percent rate, well above the national average of 1.7 percent, for a total of 65,400 new jobs, with 10 out of the 11 economic sectors growing.

Calendar year 2015 is also projected to be Arizona’s largest export year in history. Through October, Arizona’s total exports are $18.9 billion, 8.6% higher than the same period in 2014. Notably, Arizona is one of only eight states that have registered an increase in exports in 2015.

Additionally, the Census Bureau’s latest estimate indicate that Arizona added 99,282 residents, putting the state’s population at just under 6.83 million. Arizona is now the 14th most populous state, passing Massachusetts in the latest tally. Arizona ranks eighth among U.S. states for absolute growth and ninth for percentage growth.

  • Overall, Arizona is moving in the right direction. In 2016, this momentum will be sustained through efforts that include:
    Promoting Arizona – our state has a great story to tell, including ranking near the top of nearly every measurement critical to business success: tax and regulatory reform, quality of workforce and unmatched quality of life.
  • Supporting Education – The key to a sustainable economy is a strong education system. Governor Ducey has a plan to pump $3.5 billion into K-12 schools, which is the college-going and career pipeline for Arizona businesses. This changes the trend line on education spending and will help attract corporate expansions to Arizona.
  • Capitalizing on California – To date, the ACA has assisted 32 California companies establish Arizona operations, which are projected to involve 6,700 jobs and over $2 billion in capital investment. A few recognizable companies include: Apple, Silicon Valley Bank, Weebly and Zenefits.
  • Doing Business with Mexico – In 2014, trade between Arizona and Mexico hit a record $15.9 billion. This positive growth will continue as Mexico’s middle class expands and Arizona companies tap into a lucrative supply chain, especially in sectors such as aerospace and defense, automotive, medical supplies, and innovative technology.

The ACA remains focused on our mission to grow Arizona’s economy and create quality jobs for its citizens. Under the leadership of Governor Ducey and the legislature, we will continue to take our “open for business” message across Arizona and the globe.


Sandra Watson brings more than 20 years of economic development leadership experience to Arizona. For more information about how the ACA can partner to help businesses expand and grow, visit