Article originally posted on AZ Central on December 9, 2020
Metro Phoenix has finished at the top — again — in a national study that ranks counties by their ability to attract and retain high-quality workers and other economic-development factors.
Maricopa County finished first in the study by labor-analytics firm Emsi, beating out runner-up Clark County, Nevada, home of Las Vegas, and dozens of counties from Texas and Florida. The study evaluated counties in terms of migration, overall job growth, skilled-job growth, educational attainment, regional competitiveness and annual job openings per capita.
Maricopa County placed second overall last year but has finished first in three of the five years the study was conducted. The latest version analyzed 601 counties across the U.S., including nine of 15 in Arizona.
“Perhaps what is most striking about Maricopa’s economy is the breadth and depth of industries,” the report said. “It’s reasonable to assume Maricopa is benefiting from a feedback loop: existing talent attracts firms and investment, which in turn attracts more talent.”
Positive recent developments for metro Phoenix cited in the report include Intel’s expansion of its Fab 42 factory in Chandler. Maricopa County’s growth as a leader in advanced manufacturing and semiconductors has fueled a double-digit increase in skilled jobs, the Emsi researchers said.
Pinal, just south of Phoenix, was the second-highest ranked Arizona county, in 29th place. Pima County finished 91st and Yavapai County came in 97th.
Pinal, Pima and Yavapai Counties have gained ground in the rankings, though Coconino County and Flagstaff, highly dependent on tourism, have “gone in the wrong direction,” the report said.
Coconino was the lowest rated of the nine Arizona counties evaluated, in 418th place overall, three spots worse than Cochise County.