More Boomtown.

One of our regulars wrote an “interesting” post last weekend that started a debate about taxes and government services. A reader named Sonoran Sam commented with the following line “What isn’t coming to Arizona in sufficient force are well-paying jobs. Corporations are unwilling to come here because they’re facing the same infrastructure problems, and they’re looking for decent schools for themselves, for their employees, and for the future work-force they’ll need to remain competitive in a knowledge-based world economy.”

Not according to Phoenix comes up as number 5 in a report of hot jobs in the best markets. (Thank you to espressopundit for catching the story.)


  1. Sonoran Sam says

    I’m not a Phoenix basher. In fact, I’m proud of this state, and I hope my son can find a decent job here when he finishes school.

    The CNN story referenced here states that most of the job growth here is construction-related, and it goes on to warn that the real estate slowdown will play a factor.

    People who build homes work hard for their money, but we can’t build an economy building each other a new house every few years.

    The point I made still stands. We need to prepare the next generation for a knowledge-based economy. Places like Tucson still attract lots of call centers, but not the tech-savvy jobs that offer a real future.

    Our schools are over-crowded. Our teachers are frustrated and too many are leaving the classroom. We’re all stuck in traffic.

    We need a state budget that invests in these things. Once we provide the basic services we can compete for the good jobs that will continue to make Arizona a great place to live.

    That was my point.

    PS – thanks for the honest and polite discussion.

  2. We’ve been hearing Arizona is not creating the “right jobs” for the last 10+ years. A quick perusal of state personal income, gross state product and other metrics at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics proves otherwise. State income is rising faster here than in California and other big government states.

    On a personal note, I am manager for a Fortune 100 company and we have trouble finding and keeping skilled employees locally (these are jobs that pay $75k to $100+). We also have large facilities in California and Pennsylvania, and eventhough there is a skilled labor force there, we will not be expanding in those areas due to labor and operational costs.

    The high skilled people in Arizona are plentiful, though we could use more. The local labor difficulties are due to tons of employers fighting for skilled people in the valley.

    The recipe is simple: low taxes and regulations reward hard-work and risk taking behavior. No schooling can teach that.

    Sam, tell your son to get a technical degree — not a Philosphy degree — but more importantly to take charge of his career. Young people today feel entitled to lots of money with little effort. A pro-active team player can write his/her own ticket in today’s economy.

  3. As a member of a multi-generational native family, I have seen lots of changes. It was easy to know what someone meant when they said “Take the freeway”” because there was only one. Park Central was a great mall, so was Chris-Town. Our public school funding was ranked in the mid 30’s out of 50 states and when it got crowded a new one was built and probably named after someone in the community that made a difference. Nice schools, big libraries, plenty of student space. It felt like someplace special. Parents knew if their child did not behave, they would be punished. There were definitely excesses in the punishment but there was order. Motorola, Honeywell, GE and others made their home here. Home construction was the driving force for many to find good paying jobs and a better life for their families.

    Today you have to know if it is the west 101 or the east 101, which freeway is under construction and maybe even closed. Park Central is medical offices and restaurants to serve the business lunch crowd. Chris-Town is a Wal-Mart. Our schools are funded on an operations budget that is in the lowest of the low, and the building of schools follows a formula that allows the state to decide just how crowded the schools must be before another can be built. Then when it is built, “minimum standards” apply…if you want more, you want a football field or a science lab that actually meets the state required curriculum, have a bond election. Teacher pay; we are in the middle of the pack nationwide on that one. We pay our teachers better than many states when all economic data is involved, but it still isn’t sufficient for the job they do and the expectation they hold. They have been disallowed to discipline their students due to societal pressure and legal actions. More pressure is put on administrators, who are considered a drain on the system by some despite being a very vital part of the whole, to maintain order on the campus, develop curriculum, programs, and deal with NCLB, AZ Learns, AYP, the AEA, and all those other things that never spell child. They often work 60 hours per week or more, 12 months out of the year. But don’t pay them commensurate with their experience or education, like they do in other states, because the Senate will find out and there will be another bill in Sen. Ed to limit the pay of non-teachers!

    This is a great place to live for my 5th generation Arizona grandchildren. But, if we really want to have the best of both worlds, the old and the new, we need to remember why Arizona became the boomtown it was and is. There were never good freeways but we had great public schools.

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