If you want to know why Obama picked Arizona to annouce the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan, take a look at these statistics that were compiled by the White House and released in a media briefing plan. (Sourcing is noted at the end of respective paragraphs.)

Arizona jobs, unemployment and housing statistics:
* Phoenix Metro Area Unemployment: 6.3% in December 2008
* Arizona Unemployment Rate: 6.9% in December 2008
* Phoenix Metro Area Foreclosures: 40,000 in 2008
* Arizona Foreclosures: 117,000 in 2008, 3rd highest number in the U.S.
* Phoenix New Home Sales: Down 60% in December 2008 compared to December 2007
* Phoenix Home Resales: Down 72% in December 2008 compared to December 2007

Additional background on Arizona and the economy:

Foreclosures/Housing numbers

Foreclosures In The Phoenix Metro Area Hit 40,000 In 2008. The Arizona Republic reported,Phoenix grew into the nation’s fifth-largest city through a reliable pattern: Build affordable homes on the metro area’ss edges, welcome waves of new buyers, and then roads, schools and retail centers followed. Everybody seemed to benefit as metropolitan Phoenix swelled from 1 million people in 1955 to 6.5 million today. One reason the current housing collapse has been so brutal in Phoenix is how suddenly that pattern broke down. In only a couple of years, the breakdown trapped people in unfinished communities much like a fast-moving landslide buries people in their tracks. Digging into the rubble of Phoenix’s latest real-estate collapse, the damage is clearest in edge developments, areas where home values have fallen the most and foreclosures are highest. Homeowners on half-empty blocks feel stranded and frustrated. Down unfinished roads, the empty corners, vacant strip malls and stalled school projects suggest the ghost of a community that buyers counted on. In a state economy so heavily dependent on the real-estate industry, the rapid breakdown of that reliable pattern helped push Arizona into a recession. Metro Phoenix home building has slowed to a crawl. Last year, 13,000 new home permits were issued, down 60 percent from 2007. Valley foreclosures hit a record 40,000 last year and continue to climb this year. Home prices are down 40 percent from 2006’s peak because half of all homes selling now are foreclosures that lenders are reselling at bargain prices. The economic stimulus money expected from Washington could fund some much-needed freeway expansions. Federal money from last year’s housing bailout bill is expected to reach Arizona this month to help neighborhoods hardest hit by foreclosure [www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/news/articles/2009/02/15/20090215hecon-neighborhoods0215.html, The Arizona Republic, 2/15/09]

Phoenix-Area Foreclosures Rose In January 2009. The Arizona Republic reported, “Phoenix-area home foreclosures were on the rise again in January after a holiday break from bank repossessions, according to the latest home-resale figures from Arizona State University. It’s a troubling start to a year in which many experts believe foreclosure activity will reach its peak, as equity continues to dissolve and another wave of foolish-in-retrospect mortgage loan products reset to higher monthly payments. Still, resales were down 17 percent from December 2008. The foreclosures driving up sales in recent months have created opportunities for many buyers, but they also have forced residents out of their homes and chipped away at property values across the Valley, said Jay Butler, Realty Studies director. ‘Foreclosure rates are definitely still on the way up,’ said Brauneis, director of Protiviti, a subsidiary of Robert Half International. ‘It’s going to get ugly.’ In January, the median sale price for single-family detached homes in Maricopa County was $136,000, ASU reported. That’s a 44 percent drop from the median of $243,000 the previous January. Home prices fell 7 percent from December’s median resale price of $146,000, according to ASU.” [The Arizona Republic, 2/13/09]

Arizona Had The Third-Highest Number Of Foreclosure Filings In The Country In 2008. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported, “While Detroit has lost nearly 29,000 manufacturing jobs, the leading job loser in Phoenix was the construction industry, which lost 35,000 jobs. A major reason for that is the collapse in the housing market: Arizona had the third-highest number of foreclosure filings in the country in 2008, and housing prices in Phoenix dropped by almost 17 percent in the past year, whereas they grew by 2 percent here. Phoenix has also lost over 23,000 jobs in professional and business services in the past year, while Pittsburgh still has more jobs in that sector than a year ago. Clearly, a lot of the growth in Phoenix was built on a very shallow foundation.” [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 2/1/09]

117,000 Arizona Properties Received Foreclosure Filings In 2008. The Phoenix Business Journal reported, “New research from an online marketer of foreclosed properties shows foreclosure filings across the country soared 81 percent from 2007 to 2008. The rate in Arizona was 203 percent. Arizona’s 2008 total of nearly 117,000 properties receiving foreclosure filings was third-highest among the states, trailing only Nevada and Florida. Foreclosure activity in Arizona increased by 203 percent from 2007 and 655 percent from 2006¦. More than 6 percent of Phoenix housing units (one in 17) received foreclosure filings during the year, giving the city the fifth-highest metro foreclosure rate in 2008.” [Phoenix Business Journal, 1/15/09]

The Median Home Price In Mesa, Arizona, Fell Thirty-Five Percent Between January 2008 And January 2009. The Arizona Republic reported, “Obama is highlighting one of the communities hit hardest by housing meltdown. The median home price in Mesa fell to $140,000 in January, down 35 percent from a year ago, according to an analysis by Arizona State University. And 310 families in Arizona’s third-largest city lost their homes to foreclosure last month.” [www.azcentral.com/community/mesa/articles/2009/02/15/20090215stim-obamavisit0216.html The Arizona Republic, 2/15/09]

Home Prices In The Phoenix Metropolitan Area Dropped 32.7% In October 2008 Compared To October 2007. The National Post reported, “Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller 20-city U. S. housing index released Dec. 30, 2008, showed home prices in the Valley — the metropolitan area around Phoenix that includes Scottsdale–had an annual decline of 32.7% in October compared with the same month in 2007, and a whopping 47% drop from 2003. That’s a bigger percentage drop in the past year than recorded for Las Vegas, San Francisco or Miami, and nearly twice the national average, making Phoenix the weakest real estate market in the index. That has led to a record 35,000 home foreclosures this year Valley-wide including upscale golf communities in Scottsdale resulting in neighbourhoods dotted with homes left vacant and vandalized because of foreclosures.” [National Post, 1/31/09]

Arizona’s Largest Producer Of Manufactured Homes Saw Its Profits Plummet Ninety-Two Percent In The Fourth Quarter Of 2008. The Arizona Republic reported, “Profits plummeted 92 percent in the past quarter for Phoenix-based Cavco Industries Inc., the state’s largest producer of manufactured homes. The combination of an already weak housing market and credit that tightened severely last fall knocked net income for the quarter to $110,000, compared to $1.36 million a year earlier.” [The Arizona Republic, 1/31/09]

Unemployment and Local Layoffs

The Unemployment Rate In Phoenix Rose To 6.3% In December. The Phoenix Business Journal reported, “The U.S. Department of Labor reports that 363 of the nation’s 369 metropolitan largest metro areas saw jobless rates rise in December from a year earlier. The Phoenix area was no exception with unemployment standing at 6.3 percent in December up from 5.7 percent in November and 4.0 percent in December 2007. The increase put Phoenix at No. 132 among metro gains.” [www.bizjournals.com/phoenix/stories/2009/02/02/daily38.html Phoenix Business Journal, 2/4/09]

Phoenix-Area Cities Are Laying People Off And Cutting Programs In Order To Balance Budgets By The End Of The Fiscal Year. The AP reported, “Some Phoenix-area cities required by law to balance their budgets by the end of the current fiscal year are tapping into budget reserves funds known as rainy-day funds. Others are waiting for an even bigger emergency before dipping into that money. The cities’ budgets have been hammered by the housing collapse, and cities in the red are laying off workers and cutting programs as they try to compensate for falling revenue. Goodyear has offered an unspecified number of buyouts to employees, frozen unfilled jobs and is considering tapping up to $3.5 million of its $23.5 million in reserves. Buckeye is trying to close a $7 million shortfall in its 2008-09 budget, laying off 39 people and either cutting or freezing another 26 openings. Phoenix has used its entire $31.9 million reserve fund to avoid further budget cuts. Phoenix is cutting jobs and services and implementing voluntary furloughs, or unpaid time off.” [www.fox11az.com/news/topstories/stories/arizona-20090216-cities-rainy-day-funds.201549f8.html The Associated Press, 2/16/09]

ON Semiconductor Corp. Announced Plans To Close Its Phoenix-Area Plant And Eliminate 350 Manufacturing Jobs. The Arizona Republic reported, “ON Semiconductor Corp.’s manufacturing presence in metro Phoenix will be nil by next year, when the chipmaker will close its remaining Valley fabrication plant. The semiconductor manufacturer on Wednesday said that it will close the facility, which makes filters, diodes, rectifiers and transistors for electronic devices, by the end of the first quarter of 2010. Its other fabrication plant in Phoenix closed last year. The announced closure eliminates 350 manufacturing jobs in metro Phoenix. Production will be moved to ON’s plant in Malaysia.” [The Arizona Republic, 2/5/09]

Clearly, Arizona is at the epicenter of the housing crisis, but there are other places (Las Vegas, some parts of Southern California, Miami, and let’s not forget our favorite state, Michigan) that are coming up right behind it.

Feb. 19, 2009.