Institute for Economic Advancement

Metro Area Unemployment and Employment – May 2015

By , July 1, 2015 5:41 PM

New data on metro area employment and unemployment came out today, including newly revised unemployment figures from the smoothed seasonally adjusted estimates.  On a not seasonally adjusted basis, unemployment rates in Arkansas metro areas ranged from a high of 7.7% in Pine Bluff to a low of 4.3% in Fayetteville.  All eight of the metro areas that include parts of Arkansas have experienced declines in unemployment over the most recent 12-month period.  The largest year-over-year decline was in Texarkana — down 1.2%.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS)

Since the data revisions earlier this year, smoothed seasonally adjusted estimates of metro area unemployment had not been available.  The process of updating seasonal factors is now complete, so we new have a new set of estimates to compare month-to-month changes in unemployment rates around the state.  As shown in the table below, changes in unemployment rates from April to May were mixed.  Unemployment rates were up in Memphis and Pine Bluff, and were unchanged in Fort Smith and Jonesboro.  In the other four metro areas, unemployment rates moved one-tenth of a point lower.  Statewide, the unemployment rate was unchanged in May.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics, Smoothed Seasonally Adjusted Metropolitan Area Estimates.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Smoothed Seasonally Adjusted Metropolitan Area Estimates.

The revisions to seasonally adjusted unemployment rates come from three sources.  First are the changes due to the “new generation of time-series models” that were updated to include updated estimate inputs and population controls.  Second are changes in metro area definitions that affected Fort Smith, Memphis and Texarkana (see Metro Area Unemployment and Employment – January 2015).  Third are the updates to the seasonal factors themselves.  The net results of these updates are illustrated in the set of figures below:

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics, Smoothed Seasonally Adjusted Metropolitan Area Estimates

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Smoothed Seasonally Adjusted Metropolitan Area Estimates

For most of the metro areas in Arkansas, the revisions had the effect of raising the estimates unemployment rates for the period from 2010 through 2012.   The revised statistics also show a smoother downward trend in the unemployment data for late-2013 through 2014.  So far in 2015, the newly-released statistics show leveling-off of unemployment rates in most metro areas, but a move toward higher rates in some areas, particularly Fort Smith and Pine Bluff.

Payroll Employment
Data from the payroll survey show that nonfarm payroll employment changes were mixed in May.   Monthly changes in employment ranged from +1.6% in Hot Springs to -1.2% in Pine Bluff.  Compared to a year ago, Pine Bluff is the only metro area to have experienced a decline in payrolls.  In fact, the Metropolitan Area Employment and Unemployment Summary noted that Pine Bluff had the dubious distinction of having “the largest over-the-year percentage decrease in employment” in the nation (according to the not seasonally adjusted data).   Compared to employment levels before the 2008-09 recession, Little Rock has moved into positive territory, joining Fayetteville and Jonesboro.  The other five metro areas in the state continue to show net declines in employment since December 2007.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics (CES)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics (CES)

 

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Arkansas Personal Income – 2015:Q1

By , June 22, 2015 3:26 PM

Personal income in Arkansas increased by 1.0% in the first quarter of 2015, outpacing the national average 0.9%.  Arkansas’ growth rate ranked 25th among the 50 states.  The 1st quarter increase in income comes on top of an upwardly revised figure of 1.9% growth in the 4th quarter (previously reported at 1.2%).  Over the past four quarters, incomes have increased by 4.9% in Arkansas, compared to 4.4% for the entire U.S.  Relative to the previous cyclical peak (2008:Q2), incomes have risen 22.6% in Arkansas.

Source:  Bureau of Economic Analysis

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

Source:  Bureau of Economic Analysis

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

Farm income and proprietors’ income more generally were down, both in Arkansas and nationally.   On the other hand, personal current transfer receipts were up sharply, reflecting several special factors including a 1.7% cost-of-living adjustment to social security benefits.

Earnings was up 0.7% and accounted for 44% of total personal income growth.  As shown in the following table, earnings growth was relatively strong in Utilities, Construction, Management of companies and enterprises, and Accommodation and food services.  In addition to the decline in farm income, earnings from Manufacturing and Mining were also negative.

Source:  Bureau of Economic Analysis

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

 

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Arkansas Employment and Unemployment – May 2015

By , June 19, 2015 11:11 AM

Arkansas’ unemployment rate was unchanged at 5.7% in May.  After having edged down to 5.6% for the first three months of the year, the state’s unemployment rate now stands at the same level as it did in November of 2014.  Compared to a year ago, however, the rate is down one-half of a percentage point.  The national unemployment rate was 5.5% in May.  With rates now in the neighborhood of 5 to 6 percent, unemployment is approaching the “full employment” level and significant further declines are likely to materialize slowly.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Although the unemployment rate was unchanged in May, the number of unemployed increased by 673 — the third consecutive monthly increase.  On a more positive note, the number of employed Arkansans was 972 higher than the previous month.  Over the past 19 months, the employment count from the household survey has increased by 51,521.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS)


Payroll Employment

Total nonfarm payroll employment was up by 1,300 in May (seasonally adjusted).  Added to the 6,500 increase from the previous month, May’s increase brings employment back to its level of February — offsetting a sharp weather-related drop in March.  Compared to its pre-recession level (from December 2007), Arkansas employment is now up by 2,300 jobs (0.2%).  By comparison, nationwide employment surpassed its pre-recession level in April 2014, and is now up by an additional 2.4%.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

The May report showed declines in the major good-producing sectors, along with Transportation & Utilities and Financial Services.  Other service sectors saw employment gains, particularly Education & Health Services.  Since the employment trough of February 2010 only three sectors have shown further net declines:  Mining & Logging, Manufacturing, and Government.  However, many of the sectors that have expanded since then are still registering lower employment totals than before the Great Recession.  Manufacturing and Construction remain the weakest sectors in that regard.  Combined, employment in goods-producing categories (including Mining & Logging) is down 42,600 since December 2007.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics (CES)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics (CES)

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*Seasonally adjusted data for Arkansas nonfarm payroll employment, reported in a format compatible with the monthly news release from the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, can be found hereTable-Seasonally Adjusted NFPE.

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Arkansas GDP in 2014

By , June 10, 2015 1:22 PM

State and regional GDP data for 2014 were released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis this morning.  Real GDP growth from 2013 to 2014 was 0.8% for Arkansas, compared to 2.2% nationally.  Arkansas ranked 38th among the 50 states in overall growth.

Source:  Bureau of Economic Analysis

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

The BEA News Release noted that professional, scientific, and technical services was the largest contributor to U.S. real GDP, and that nondurable goods manufacturing and real estate and rental and leasing were also strong growth components.  In Arkansas, professional services and nondurable goods manufacturing contributed positively to growth, but not by as much as the nationwide figures.  On the other hand, mining was a strong component of Arkansas’ growth, as was management of companies and enterprises.  Week sectors of the Arkansas economy included utilities, construction, real estate, and agriculture, etc.

Source:  Bureau of Economic Analysis

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

Although the data were not subject to major definitional changes, revisions to underlying source data turned out to be substantial for Arkansas.  Growth rates over the past decade were generally revised downward, with the exceptions being 2007 and 2011.   The magnitude of revisions to previous years’ growth rates serves as a reminder that the new data for 2014 are considered “advance” estimates and will be subject to revision next year.

Source:  Bureau of Economic Analysis

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

Since the trough of the recession in 2009, real GDP in Arkansas experienced cumulative growth of 9.6%, compared to 10.1% for the U.S.   As shown in the following figure, growth in Arkansas was above the national average in 2010 and 2011, but has subsequently lagged behind.

Source:  Bureau of Economic Analysis

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

 

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Metro Area Employment and Unemployment – April 2015

By , June 3, 2015 12:21 PM

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this morning that unemployment rates in all of Arkansas’ metro areas were down from a year earlier.  Unemployment rates have been falling for well over a year now, and the pace of decline is slowing somewhat.  Consequently, the some of the year-over-year declines in April are smaller than they have been in recent months.  From April 2014 to April 2015, changes in unemployment rates have ranged from -0.2% in Fort Smith to -1.1% in Texarkana.  Statewide, the unemployment rate declined 0.4% over the same period.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS)

The data are  now fully revised to reflect new estimation methodologies and data sources, as well as changes in the definitions of metropolitan areas.  However, smoothed seasonally adjusted estimates have not yet been updated, so meaningful month-to-month comparisons are not possible.

Payroll Employment
Recent changes in payroll employment have been mixed.  From March to April, both Fort Smith and Jonesboro saw rather sharp increases — up 1.0% and 1.1%, respectively (seasonally adjusted).  Smaller gains were reported for Fayetteville, Little Rock and Memphis.  The other metro areas experienced month-to-month declines.  Over the past 12 months, employment in Pine Bluff has continued to decline and has been basically unchanged in Texarkana.*  Year-over-year net job growth has been positive elsewhere.  Nevertheless, total employment remains below pre-recession levels in 5 of the 80metro areas that include parts of Arkansas.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics (CES)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics (CES)ye

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Note:  Payroll data for Texarkana (which now include Little River County) are not presently being published by the BLS on a seasonally adjusted basis.  Payroll employment figures for Texarkana refer to data that have been seasonally adjusted by the Institute for Economic Advancement.

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Arkansas Taxable Sales – 2015:Q1

By , June 1, 2015 12:39 PM

In the first quarter of 2015, Arkansas Taxable Sales Including Gasoline (ATSIG) declined by 1.2%.  Compared to the first quarter of 2014, ATSIG was up by only 0.6%.  However, much of the decline in overall consumer spending can be attributed to low gasoline prices.  Based on data from the Oil Price Information Service, the average price of a gallon of gasoline in Arkansas during the first quarter of the year was only $2.10, down 21.6% from the previous quarter and down 33.9% from a year earlier.  Moreover, the number of gallons of gasoline purchased dropped as well:  13.8% lower than a year earlier.  Total expenditures on gasoline were down 31.2% for the quarter (seasonally adjusted) and were down 38.7% from the year before.

With a smaller share of household budgets going toward purchases of gasoline, the non-gasoline component of Arkansas Taxable Sales (ATS) surged higher — up by 1.0% from the previous quarter and up 3.9% from the previous year.  The non-gasoline measure of taxable sales — based on sales tax collection data from the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration — has increased by 20.4% since the trough of the recession (2009:Q2), reflecting an average annual growth rate of 3.3%.

Sources:  Department of Finance and Administration, Oil Price Information Service, Institute for Economic Advancement.

Sources: Department of Finance and Administration, Oil Price Information Service, Institute for Economic Advancement.

Sources:  Department of Finance and Administration, Oil Price Information Service, Institute for Economic Advancement.

Sources: Department of Finance and Administration, Oil Price Information Service, Institute for Economic Advancement.

# # #

Arkansas Taxable Sales (ATS) is calculated by the Institute for Economic Advancement to serve as a timely proxy for Arkansas retail sales. The series is derived from sales and use tax data, adjusting for the relative timing of tax collections and underlying sales, changes in tax laws, and seasonal patterns in the data.  Arkansas Taxable Sales Including Gasoline (ATSIG) incorporates data on the state motor fuel tax and gasoline prices from the Oil Price Information Service. A spreadsheet of the monthly and quarterly data is available here: Arkansas Taxable Sales 2015:Q1 (Excel file).

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Arkansas Employment and Unemployment – April 2015

By , May 27, 2015 10:58 AM

The unemployment rate for Arkansas ticked up by one-tenth of a percent in April to 5.7%.  According to recently revised historical data for the state’s  unemployment rate, it was the first uptick since January 2001.  It should not be too surprising to see a slight increase.  Now that the unemployment rate has fallen closer to sustainable long-run levels, it will become more common to see months where the unemployment rate remains unchanged or displays small (and statistically insignificant) ups and downs.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS)

As shown in the figures below, this was the second consecutive month in which we’ve seen the number of unemployed increase — up approximately 1,500 in April after an increase of 900 in March.  On the other hand, it was also the 18th consecutive month in which the household survey indicated an increase in the number of employed Arkansans as well.  Since October 2013, the number of employed has increased by over 50,000.  The state’s labor force continues to expand — up by 4,000 in April and up by nearly 42,000 over the past 12 months.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS)

Payroll Employment
Data from the payroll survey also indicated a strong month of job growth, with nonfarm payroll employment expanding by 6,400 jobs in April.   However, much of the strength in April reflected a bounce-back from weather-related weakness in March.  For the first four months of the year, net employment growth has totaled only 4,200.  Novertheless, following strong gains in the second half of 2014, Arkansas employment in April was up 24,600 from the previous year.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics (CES)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics (CES)

Reflecting the improvement in weather conditions, construction was the largest single contributor to the employment increase in April — up 2,400 for the month.  Education and Health Services also showed continued growth, with employment expanding by 1,700.  Increases were also notable in Retail Trade and Manufacturing.  Employment in Leisure and Hospitality services was down slightly for the month.  However, that sector continues to be one of the more rapidly-expanding areas of the economy, with a net gain of 15,600 jobs since the employment trough of February 2010.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics (CES)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics (CES)

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*Seasonally adjusted data for Arkansas nonfarm payroll employment, reported in a format compatible with the monthly news release from the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, can be found hereTable-Seasonally Adjusted NFPE.

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Arkansas House Prices – 2015:Q1

By , May 26, 2015 4:51 PM

The Federal Housing Finance Agency released new data on home prices this morning.  According to the FHFA’s “Expanded Data Indexes,” house prices in Arkansas declined slightly in the first quarter of 2015, falling by 0.4% from the fourth quarter of 2014.  Compared to a year ago, house prices in Arkansas were up 1.7%.  Nationwide, house prices were up 1.4% for the quarter, and were 5.8% higher than a year before.  Since hitting a trough in the second quarter of 2011, prices have increased by 11.5% in Arkansas and 22.2% nationwide.  The slower rate of appreciation in Arkansas reflects the fact that house prices declined be less then the rest of the nation during the price collapse of 2007-2011.

Source:  Federal Housing Finance Agency

Source: Federal Housing Finance Agency

The Expanded data indexes are compiled using data from actual sales prices gathered from FannieMae, FreddieMac, FHA and County Property Recorder sources.  For metropolitan areas, FHFA publishes a set of “All-Transactions Indexes” that are based on actual sales prices along with appraisal values from refinancing.  As shown in the chart and table below, home prices in the various metro areas of Arkansas have displayed widely differing patterns.  Fayetteville and Memphis experienced price declines from 2007 to 2011 that were consistent with nationwide averages, but prices in both of those metro areas have shown significant recovery since then.  At the other extreme, prices in Texarkana, Jonesboro, Fort Smith and Little Rock showed little downward movement during the nationwide decline, and have experienced net positive appreciation since 2007.

Source:  Federal Housing Finance Agency.  Seasonal adjustment by the Institute for Economic Advancement.

Source: Federal Housing Finance Agency. Seasonal adjustment by the Institute for Economic Advancement.

In the first quarter of 2015, home prices were higher in 5 of 8 metro areas, with declines in Fayetteville, Pine Bluff, and Texarkana.  Pine Bluff was the only metro area to have experienced a decline compared to the first quarter of 2014.  Over the 5 years since 2010:Q1, house prices have fallen 6.4% in Pine Bluff and 0.7% in Hot Springs, but are up in the state’s other metro areas.  The highest rate of appreciation has been in Jonesboro, where prices are 8.2% higher than they were five 5 years go.

Source:  Federal Housing Finance Agency.  Seasonal adjustment by the Institute for Economic Advancement.

Source: Federal Housing Finance Agency. Seasonal adjustment by the Institute for Economic Advancement.

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Arkansas Home Sales – March 2015

By , May 20, 2015 3:28 PM

New data from the Arkansas Realtors® Association show another strong month for Arkansas real estate markets, with home sales up 15.8% in March compared to the previous year.  Sales of 2,526 homes represented the highest March sales total since 2007.

Source:  Arkansas Realtors® Association

Source: Arkansas Realtors® Association

Following year-over-year gains in both January and February, total home sales for the first quarter of the year were up by 10.2% compared to the first quarter of 2014.  As shown in the figure below, seasonally adjusted home sales are continuing to follow a steadily rising trend.  The pace of sales has now recovered to well-above the peaks in 2009 and 2010 that were artificially inflated by federal home-buyers’ tax credits.

Source:  Arkansas Realtors® Association; seasonal adjustment by the Institute for Economic Advancement

Source: Arkansas Realtors® Association; seasonal adjustment by the Institute for Economic Advancement

Home sales were up among all of the largest counties in the state, with year-over-year gains particularly notable in Craighead County and Sebastian County.    The combined year-over-year increases for the Northwest Arkansas counties of Benton and Washington were 13.8% for March and 11.7% for the first quarter.   The combined totals for four Central Arkansas counties (Pulaski, Faulkner, Saline, and Lonoke) showed increases of 20.4% for the month and 8.5% for the quarter.

Source: Arkansas Realtors® Association

Source: Arkansas Realtors® Association

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Metro Area Employment and Unemployment – March 2015

By , April 29, 2015 3:56 PM

The latest report on metro area employment and unemployment showed that Arkansas metro areas continue to show dramatic year-over-year declines in unemployment rates.  As shown in the table below, unemployment rates have fallen by more than a full percentage point over the past year in Jonesboro, Memphis, Pine Bluff, and Texarkana.  The smallest decline in unemployment — in the Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway metropolitan area — was 0.7%.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS)

The data are  now fully revised to reflect new estimation methodologies and data sources, as well as changes in the definitions of metropolitan areas.  However, smoothed seasonally adjusted estimates have not yet been updated, so meaningful month-to-month comparisons are not possible.

Payroll Employment
The previously-reported statewide payroll data showed a sharp decline for Arkansas in March.  Although the drop-off appears to be largely weather-related, payroll employment declines were also prevalent across the state’s metro areas.   Employment declined in 6 of the 8 metro areas that include parts of Arkansas, was unchanged in Texarkana, and was up only slightly in Little Rock.  Compared to the previous year, employment has increased in 6 metro areas but is lower in Fort Smith and Pine Bluff.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics (CES)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics (CES)

The chart below illustrates the divergent patterns of employment growth across the state’s metro areas.  Compared to the fourth quarter of 2007 (before the onset of the 2008-09 recession), employment is up nearly 12% in Jonesboro and 9.5% in Northwest Arkansas.  In the Little Rock metro area, employment has now slightly exceeded it’s pre-recession level.  Hot Springs, Memphis and Fort Smith have shown employment gains over the past three years, but remain below pre-recession peaks.  Employment has continued to follow a downward trend in both Pine Bluff and Texarkana.*  Payroll employment in Pine Bluff is down 13.2% compared to the fourth quarter of 2007.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics (CES)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics (CES)

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*Note:  Payroll data for Texarkana (which now include Little River County) are not presently being published by the BLS on a seasonally adjusted basis.  Payroll employment figures for Texarkana refer to data that have been seasonally adjusted by the Institute for Economic Advancement.

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