Stories for Topic:
The Arizona Report paints our state by the numbers. It’s not the pretty picture one hopes to see.
The scoreboard compares us with others on three critical measures of a state’s well-being that Thinking Arizona has examined in recent editions. Arizona comes up short on the economy, in education, and even on the environment.
The overall pattern is distressing. Arizona, now the 15th largest state, is no backwater. Yet we treat ourselves as one. Our performance raises serious questions, beginning with why this happens.
Explore this edition. Try out the Arizona Report. Plug in whatever other states to compare. See how Arizona does.
The “innovation economy,” the hope for the future, is easier wished than accomplished.
The state’s universities shoulder some of the responsibility. They have had some success in inventing the new technology that, in keeping with a long-held premise, industry will then convert into new products that fuel the economy.
But others do better. The University of Utah reports, for instance, that it spawns twice as many new companies and produces nearly as many patents as the University of Arizona and Arizona State University combined.
The Arizona universities boast able inventors such as UA telescope guru Roger Angel. And the schools are maneuvering to upgrade and, in the case of ASU, even revolutionize their practices.
It is a challenge. But if they succeed, the economy can only benefit.
All the teeth-gnashing that is consuming the country over the loss of manufacturing jobs seems so retro, so Rust Belt, so remote, so somebody else’s problem. The natural impulse is to let the Midwest, the Northeast and the poor folks down there in North Carolina worry about it.
Let’s get real.
In recent years Arizona has fared no better than the rest of the country in preventing manufacturing jobs from flushing out of the economic system. Manufacturing was once the 2nd largest employer in state; it’s now 9th. Employment peaked in 1998 and has sharply decreased since — making it the only major sector in the state to lose jobs in the period since 1990.
The foundation of the state’s economy, like the U.S., is metamorphosing from manufacturing to service. Here’s thinking about the consequences.