Contrary to what some critics say, Arizona's superheated growth during the 1990s was good for the economy, the conservative Goldwater Institute concluded in a policy paper released Thursday.
Robert Franciosi, an economist with the Phoenix public policy institute, cited statistics that he said dispute claims that growth brought low-paying jobs and poorly educated workers to the state, and that more government spending is necessary to improve education, revitalize downtown areas and lure "new economy" companies and workers.
He criticized such groups as Arizona State University's Morrison Institute for Public Policy for advocating "a sweeping agenda for activist government" that would result in more government spending and higher taxes.
"There is very little evidence to suggest that Arizona's growth has been bad for the economic health of the state," said Franciosi, adding:
U.S. Census figures show that the number of Arizonans with graduate or professional degrees increased by 58 percent during the 1990s, compared with an increase of 39 percent for the nation as a whole, debunking claims of a "brain drought."
Arizona ranks 19th in the nation for total number of students enrolled in degree-granting institutions, and seventh in its ratio of college students.
The state's economy is well-balanced, with an industrial distribution that mirrors that of the nation as a whole, even though the construction industry's share of state output is slightly higher than the national average.
The Goldwater Institute's conclusions are at odds with a recent study by the Morrison Institute that found that growth resulted in too many low-tech jobs in the Valley.
The Morrison findings were discussed at length at a major economic summit in November, leading the Greater Phoenix Economic Council to propose a new regional economic development strategy aimed at attracting and creating high-wage jobs.