According to research recently released by the Arizona Office of Tourism, a record-breaking 43 million overnight visitors spent time in the Grand Canyon State last year. But while they funneled in $58 million per day, other data shows that full-time AZ residents are less financially secure than those who live elsewhere in the United States.
Domestic visitation increased by 2.7% from the previous year, with most visitors hailing from California, New York, and Illinois. Those who visited Arizona last year spent $21.2 billion total, which equates to more than $40,000 every minute. And that spending directly supported approximately 184,000 jobs throughout the state. Throughout the U.S., one out of nine jobs depends on travel and tourism. Since Arizona is an outdoor adventurer’s dream, it’s no surprise that the tourism-related positions in the state generated $6.5 billion in employment revenue last year.
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey noted in a statement, “Over 43 million visitors — which is larger than the population of California — understand all that Arizona has to offer. The money those visitors spend is crucial to Arizona’s economic wellbeing because it sustains jobs, generates tax revenue and improves our quality of life.”
But a recent national study found that Arizonans’ quality of life may not actually be so great.
Data from Prosperity Now shows that Arizona residents are far less financially secure than residents in most other states. The prevalence of low-wage occupations and failure to put aside savings were cited among the most important factors in the study, as was a subpar small business ownership ranking.
According to the study, nearly 42% of Arizona households have virtually no liquid assets. In other words, these individuals would struggle immediately if they lost their job or experienced any type of financial setback, due to their lack of savings. Approximately 36% of households failed to set aside money for emergencies in the last year, and almost 28% of Arizona jobs are considered low-wage occupations, which may not provide them with the option to save. Around 18% of state residents experience volatility in their monthly income.
That said, there is a bit of good news. Although the state ranked 40th overall in prosperity, Arizona’s jobless rate and local economy did improve over the last year. While 57% of organizations nationwide view employee retention as a problem, more people seem to be keeping their jobs throughout the state. And Arizona did manage to edge out Nevada and New Mexico in the study.
However, these small improvements may not be enough, especially for non-white residents. More than 24% of minority households in AZ are currently living below the poverty line and only 48% of minority households are likely to actually own their home or have other assets that would increase their long-term financial stability.
There may be more job opportunities in Arizona than in years past, but of those that are available, there aren’t many that pay well. But for residents who are in need of steady employment, they might do well to look for openings in the tourism industry.