A Demand for Talent: Arizona Job Market

Max Hansen
CEO & Co-Founder, Y Scouts

Phoenix Metro is now home to more than 1.6 million people with a diverse economy built on the foundation of tourism, manufacturing, healthcare, tech, financial and educational institutions. Maricopa County was recently named as the nation’s fastest growing county, adding residents, jobs and wages at a higher rate than any other county in the United States. The local labor market is also young and diverse, with an average age of 34.

Over the last 12 months, Phoenix Metro has seen a 2.8 percent job growth, up from a 1.5 percent gain in 2016. Employers added 35,000+ jobs in Phoenix Metro, with more than 20,000 of those jobs in advanced fields. This growth has been driven by an increasing number of advanced industries moving to and investing in our city. In response to increased competition in high-tech, financial service, precision manufacturing and healthcare industries, wages have increased by 7.6 percent in 2017 alone, in effort to attract and retain talent. The wage increase is the highest compared to anywhere else in the United States.

Phoenix Metro is a desirable market for employers — the city is more affordable than most cities on the West Coast, including San Francisco, Los Angeles or Seattle. Phoenix Metro often attracts businesses with various tax incentives, and it has affordable real-estate, a moderate climate and the city is close to California, Colorado, Nevada, Utah and Texas. The diversification and expansion of the employer market has been a popular topic among Arizona economic developers, resulting in a major impact on the local talent market.

Forbes recently ranked Arizona as the fourth-best state for future job growth and the fifth-best state for young professionals. Much of this job growth has been focused in the healthcare and high-tech industry. ZipRecruiter reported Phoenix Metro to be the fastest growing tech town in America, as well as the second-best city in the U.S. for healthcare jobs.

While these rankings may sound great at first, they highlight the big issue at hand: addressing the talent deficit. Phoenix Metro has a disproportionate number of unfilled jobs in these emerging industries. The success of our economy depends on the supply of educated, skilled, creative and passionate workers to join these companies to help elevate the economy and the city.

This new-age, skilled workforce places high importance on working with a company that has a real and positive impact on the world. They want more than just a job – they want an experience that makes them proud. One of the challenges we’re witnessing that isn’t necessarily represented in the research is the scarcity and availability of experienced, knowledgeable, values-based leaders in the market. These leaders play a huge role in attracting, retaining and growing the high-caliber talent their companies need.

Bridging the skills gap is a vast, complicated and long-term challenge. It requires collaboration between local Chambers of Commerce, leading employers, workforce development, politicians and educational leaders. Local universities have also been evolving curriculum to keep up with the market demand. At the same time, an increasing number of companies are offering skilled and mentored internships, as well as tech schools. An example of one of these companies is Galvanize, located in the warehouse district in downtown Phoenix. Galvanize is offering nationally-recognized training for skillsets such as software engineering and data-science.

In the short term, we are seeing an increase of job-seekers relocating to Arizona to help fill the high demand, especially from areas with a high cost of living or colder climates. After a few years in a high-cost, densely populated city, a young professional who wants to settle down, buy a house and start the next phase of their life may find Phoenix Metro an attractive place to live.

Phoenix is a young city in transition. New economic pressures will continue to force our labor markets to adapt and address the needs of local industries. As residents and stewards of our communities, it’s imperative to the long-term success of our economy that we support efforts to bridge the skills gap.

In the meantime, you may want to get accustomed to having new neighbors from California.

Max Hansen is the CEO and Co-Founder of Y Scouts based in Scottsdale, Arizona. Y Scouts is a Purpose Based leadership search firm providing purpose aligned and performance proven leaders. In addition, Y Scouts provides Training and Development to up level hiring practices within other companies. Check them out at www.yscouts.com.