Santa Cruz County’s unemployment rate dropped by 1.5 percent in August, though it still remained solidly in double-digits at 11.1 percent.
A month report released Thursday by the Arizona Department of Economic Opportunity showed that 16,965 people were employed in the local economy last month, up from 16,199 in July.
At the same time, the number of people applying for jobless benefits fell to 2,122 in August, from 2,336 in July.
It wasn’t clear what caused the uptick in employment, since large-scale seasonal hirings for the winter produce import season are still more than a month away. But schools returned to full in-person instruction at the start of August, which may have created new jobs while also giving some parents a change to return to the workforce.
Despite the positive turn last month, Santa Cruz County still had the second-highest jobless rate among Arizona’s 15 counties, ahead of only Yuma County at 18.2 percent, and a full percentage point worse than Apache County at 10.1 percent, the only other county with a double-digit unemployment rate in August.
At the state level, Arizona’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased to 6.2 percent in August from 6.6 percent in July. The U.S. rate fell to 5.2 percent in August from 5.4 percent in July.
In August 2020, state data showed 16,489 people employed in Santa Cruz County, 2,185 people officially unemployed and a jobless rate of 11.7 percent.