Arizona is on the path to full economic recovery and may get there in about three years, experts said Wednesday.
Economists said Arizona ranked fifth among states for job growth as of September and Phoenix was fourth among large metropolitan areas.
They said Arizona is expected to add 60,000 jobs next year, led by professional and business services, retail, hospitality and health care.
Experts also said Arizona may see a 2.5 percent growth in its employment rate next year. They also predict that the state's unemployment rate will dip below 8 percent in 2013.
"If we can avoid the fiscal cliff, then it looks like the economy could finally be in a self-sustaining recovery," said Beth Ann Bovino, deputy chief economist at Standard & Poor's.
About 1,000 people attended Wednesday's 49th annual Economic Forecast luncheon at the downtown Phoenix Convention Center.
Elliott D. Pollack, chief executive officer of Scottsdale-based economic and real estate consulting firm Elliott D. Pollack and Company, addressed the housing market.
"Even though about 40 percent of Arizona homeowners are underwater on their mortgages, we're starting to see a recovery," Pollack said. "The single-family-home and apartment markets look great. Industrial real estate has improved quite a bit. Only office and retail have quite a way to go."
The event was co-sponsored by Arizona State University's W. P. Carey School of Business and JPMorgan Chase.
Copyright 2012 CBS 5 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.