Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Talent Markets: Arizona Implodes

"Sun Belt Bust" Phoenix is one of the worst large cities for jobs. The main reason for the slump is the burst of the real estate bubble. Arizona's new immigration law is tantamount to kicking Greater Phoenix while it is down:

I buy what he's selling. And consider that Phoenix home values have declined 52% from their peak, are still off on a year-over-year basis, and declined in both January and February of this year. As Mr Sumner put it, now might not be the optimal moment to send out a signal to property markets that Hispanic immigration is about to slow sharply.

He is Richard Green, who is selling that immigrants are vital to the recovery of the housing market and Arizona is shooting itself in the foot. During an economic crisis, many of us have a bad tendency to bite the hand that feeds. Arizona is intent on punishing immigrants for the reversal of fortune. Less inmigration of any kind will deepen the malaise.

The nativist mood swing could further impede domestic migration to Arizona. The state has a history of intolerance. Some of you may remember the resistance to observing the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.:

Most famously, all three Arizona House Republicans including current Senator and former presidential candidate John McCain, voted against the bill in '83. The state did not vote in favor of recognizing the holiday until 1992, not only rejecting pleas from Reagan and then Arizona governor Evan Mecham but also losing the NFL's support when the league moved Super Bowl XXVII from Sun Devil Stadium, in Tempe, to California in protest.

I'll be interested to see how Major League Baseball reacts to the racial profiling of its players during spring training in the Cactus League. But nothing could be more damaging to Arizona's economy than a prolonged slump in the housing market. Apparently, the state politicians have no plan to deal with the crisis other than to find a convenient scapegoat and make the situation worse.


rootvg said...

I have two classmates originally from the Rust Belt (one liberal, one conservative) living in Phoenix and they're very happy there. One is a housewife and the other is a real estate lawyer who could have walked into his father's law practice in Ohio without batting an eye.

Your "doom is imminent" tirades about the Sunbelt are getting a little stale.

Jim Russell said...

Two anecdotes about people happily living in the Rust Belt doesn't mean the region is making a comeback.

jenna said...

Hmm. Phoenix is a nice place as are some other places in Arizona and as are a lot of places; however, when you add a law such as the newest one on paper checking, it makes a lot of people very uncomfortable including the very people you do not want to alienate (or do they). Very shortsighted to say 2 people are happy there--does this mean happy there because it's a nice place (and without the new law they were fine) or that they are happy about this new law and think it is justifiable. I loved Arizona when I lived there but if I lived there now, I would be very irritated with this provision being enacted. We have a med student living in our household (legal alien) and he is dark skinned and comes from a rather unstable part of the world and he stated he had thought about visiting this part of the country this summer but now would not chance it and certainly not because he is not legal. Feels like it is a little smacking of a 3rd world country or a state controlled dictatorship state. Not a pretty picture that they are painting.

rootvg said...

Jan Brewer is a relatively new governor in Arizona and if she didn't have support from her base for the new immigration law, she wouldn't have signed it. That's Politics 101.

I just heard United is gobbling up Continental and consolidating in Chicago. Kucinich and Brown and the usual suspects will rally their supporters to shame and browbeat those bad 'ol boys in their pin stripe suits but in the end will lose as they always do. The lawyers wouldn't have given their approval if there was a legitimate anti trust issue with the deal. Anyone who's spent any time at all in the corporate world knows that.

Cleveland Hopkins is about to become a huge airport that nobody uses...and it's just more of the same. The Rust Belt won't give up its unions and change its business culture to stave off the demographic rot that's been going on for fifty years. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Done By Forty said...

I began my job search in Phoenix in August of 2009. It took me a month to find my first job as a temporary contractor, and over four months to find permanent employment. However, the process taught me to hone my skills as a job seeker and, as I kept looking and interviewing even after I had permanent employment, I am now making more in Arizona (over 20% more) than I ever made in California. The recession served as motivation to pursue the best opportunities during a time in which my contemporaries were often happy to hold the jobs they already had.

Typically, I'd expect that during a recession, the recently unemployed would become mobile and move to regions that have job growth. The But since the recession is coinciding with home prices dropping so dramatically, the workforce can't be mobile until they can sell their houses. That's likely the largest obstacle in the Sun Belt's economic recovery: upside down houses are acting as an anchor for skilled workers.