More Spending on Outdoor Recreation, Delivery Services help Trim Arizona Jobless Rate

Source:  Arizona Daily Star – Tuscon.com – December 17, 2020 – Updated January 1, 2021

Credit: Josh Galemore/Arizona Daily Star

Arizona’s unemployment rate dropped a tenth of a point last month. And at least part of that could bethat more people are hitting the road — socially distanced, of course. New figures from the Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity show the state gained 27,500 private sector jobs last month over October. That still leaves employment here by private businesses nearly 74,000 below where it was a year ago. And Arizona’s seasonally adjusted jobless rate, even at 7.8%, is still more than a full point higher than the national level.

But Doug Walls, the agency’s research administrator, said as the economy recovers from the initial shock of COVID-19, there are some brighter areas emerging, not just here but across the nation. And that goes to how people are spending their money. For example, he said just between September and October, the most recent breakdown available, spending on recreational services went up 2.6%. And there was a 1.5% month-over-month boost in what people across the nation were shelling out for recreational vehicles and goods. “People are just trying to get out of the house,” he said. “Maybe they’re trying a new hobby, camping, hiking, biking, those kind of things you can do individually or socially distanced.”

At the other extreme, month-over-month consumer spending for gasoline and other energy goods dropped 1.5%, with declines also in clothing and footwear. And people are still not looking to go out to eat or travel, as shown by declines in spending on food services and accommodations like hotels and motels. In fact, those remain the weakest part of the state’s recovery, with employment still more than 13% below where it was a year ago, a net decline of nearly 44,000 jobs.

The pandemic also is having another effect: an acceleration of the shift to buying things online and having them delivered. Walls said that normally at this time of the year, there would be a boost in seasonal hiring through temporary employment agencies. But the number of people working for those services actually dropped between October and November. At the same time, there was a 7.8% month-over-month increase in Arizonans working in transportation and warehousing, a category that reflects not just those fulfillment centers and the drivers that work for them but others doing delivery.

Walls said there has been a gradual increase in e-commerce now for more than a decade, rising from just 0.6% nationally of all sales in 1999 to about 11.8% in 2019. “And then, almost immediately after the COVID-19 pandemic we saw the share of e-commerce sales jump up quite dramatically,” he said, sitting most recently at 14.3% of all sales. Put another way, nearly one dollar of every seven in current consumer spending is in online purchases. “I would say that’s a direct effect of the COVID-19 pandemic and the shift in the consumer preferences and the way consumers are purchasing goods and services,” Walls said.

It was only that sharp boost in year-over-year employment in transportation and warehousing that saved the entire trade sector, with the number of people working in retail actually down from the same time a year earlier. That increase in warehouse and delivery jobs, in turn, has resulted in the overall trade sector having more than recovered from the effects of the pandemic. Walls said for every two jobs lost in that slice of the economy since February, the state now has three.

The situation, however, is not the same across the board. The state’s mining industry has brought back just 22% of the jobs lost since February. It isn’t much better in the manufacturing and information sectors with the recovery at 30% and 32% respectively. Still, he said, Arizona is doing better than the nation as a whole. The latest figure shows job losses here at 3.1% overall since February, versus 6.5% nationally.

A Reminder to Share the Outdoors – Arizona’s public lands one of the state’s greatest attractions

Source:  Arizona Game and Fish Department press release – November 5, 2020

A question that comes up from time to time, particularly during hunting seasons, is who has the right-of-way when recreating outdoors on Arizona’s 50 million acres of public land?

The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) reminds all outdoor user groups that the state’s vast and treasured public lands sustain multiple uses for enjoyment by hunters, hikers, anglers, mountain bikers, wildlife photographers, campers, all-terrain vehicle (ATV) riders and more.

As the pandemic continues to wear on, even more people are headed outdoors as a means of coping with the challenges of the health crisis. To that point, different users are bound to bump into each other from time to time.

All encounters should be handled with politeness and respect, of course. A simple “hello” or wave of the hand often can suffice. A cheerful exchange, if only for a moment or two, can leave both users with a good feeling, even though they might not be sharing in the same recreational activity.
Arizona’s hunters already know that conducting themselves respectfully and responsibly in the field only strengthens public opinion of their time-honored tradition. With hunting seasons in full swing, AZGFD offers these basic reminders:
  • Show respect for other outdoor user groups. They share the same rights as you do to use the land.
  • If you encounter users who are engaged in recreational activities other than your own, be polite. Be willing to make conversation and share information.
  • Offer assistance if needed or requested. 
  • Be courteous to non-hunters when transporting game from the field. Transport animals discreetly. 
For questions about outdoor recreation opportunities in the state’s national forests, contact the appropriate land-management agency:
  • Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest: (928) 333-4301.
  • Coconino National Forest: (928) 527-3600.
  • Coronado National Forest: (520) 388-8300.
  • Kaibab National Forest: (928) 635-8200.
  • Prescott National Forest: (928) 443-8000.
  • Tonto National Forest: (602) 225-5200.
  • Bureau of Land Management (BLM): (602) 417-9200.

 

National Recreation and Parks Association 2020 Engagement with Parks Report

Source:  National Recreation and Parks Association – September 2020

Parks and recreation touches the lives of millions of people every day. Parks, trails, public open spaces and recreation facilities are places where people can improve their physical and mental health, gather with family and friends, and reconnect with nature. With vast, diverse offerings, parks and recreation provides a unique, personal experience for every member of a community.

With their goals of advancing community health and well-being, developing climate-ready parks and providing equitable access to their many benefits, the more than 10,000 local park and recreation agencies across the country help make our cities, towns and counties vibrant communities. In turn, the public recognizes parks and recreation’s innate ability to improve the lives of every member of a community. When deciding where they want to reside, people seek places that feature well-maintained parks, vast trail networks, pools and other recreation facilities.

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has demonstrated the essential value of local parks and  recreation. Thanks to the tireless efforts of park and recreation professionals, most parks, trails and other public spaces have remained open and safe during the pandemic. Even at the peak of stay-at-home edicts, parks and trails largely remained open, and frequently served as the sole recreation opportunity available to the public. Many park and recreation agencies also have been vital contributors to their communities’ pandemic responses by delivering nutritious meals to community members in need, offering their spaces as emergency shelters for people experiencing homelessness or expanding classroom capacity for schools, and providing childcare and services for families of emergency first responders and essential workers.

Each June since 2016, the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) Research team has surveyed 1,000 U.S. adults to better understand how people connect with parks and recreation; the results of these surveys are the basis for the annual Engagement with Parks Report. This report provides park and recreation professionals and advocates, policymakers and other key stakeholders with insights about the impact that local parks and recreation facilities have on the lives of every person in our nation.

In 2020, NRPA conducted a shorter-than-typical Engagement survey because of the dynamic nature of life during the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2020 study focused on a few key questions:

  • How frequently do people visit parks, trails and recreation amenities?
  • How has the pandemic affected park usage?
  • Do adults in the United States see public parks as an essential government service?
  • Are people more likely to vote for political leaders who support funding for parks and recreation?

Key findings of the 2020 Engagement with Parks Report include:

  • Eighty-two percent of U.S. adults agree that parks and recreation is essential.
  • Seventy-seven percent of survey respondents indicate that having a high-quality park, playground, public open space or recreation center nearby is an important factor in deciding where they want to live.
  • U.S. residents visit local park and recreation facilities more than twice a month on average.
  • Three in five U.S. residents — more than 190 million people — visited a park, trail, public open space or other recreation facility at least once during the first three months of the pandemic (mid-March through mid-June 2020).
  • Seventy-two percent of U.S. adults are more likely to vote for local political leaders who make park and recreation funding a priority.

Click Here to download the entire report.

Governor’s Heritage Honor Preservation Award Videos

Source:  Arizona Preservation Foundation, July 22, 2020

Since 1982, the Arizona Preservation Foundation and State Historic Preservation Office have partnered to present the Governor’s Heritage Honor Preservation Awards. The awards recognize people, organizations, and projects that represent outstanding achievements in preserving Arizona’s prehistoric and historic resources. The ten award winners are introduced and the Grand Award winner is announced at the annual Arizona Historic Preservation Conference.

This year at the 2020 Arizona Preservation Virtual Conference – “Preservation in Place” the Arizona Heritage Alliance was honored as one of the award winners for the Restoration of the Heritage Fund.  Click here to view the video featuring our efforts.