Posts tagged: Unemployment rate

Arkansas Employment and Unemployment – December 2014

By , January 27, 2015 12:43 PM

The December report on state employment and unemployment showed continuing improvement in Arkansas labor markets.  For the fourth month in a row, the number of unemployed declined and the number of employed increased sharply.  In fact, the household survey shows a three month employment gain of over 29,000 — an unprecedented rate of increase.  As a result, the state’s total labor force has expanded by over 24,000 in the past three months, and the unemployment rate has declined by one-half percentage point to 5.7%.

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

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

The volatility of statistics from the household survey has been particularly large in recent months.  When the annual averages are published on March 4, the labor force and unemployment data will be revised using a new generation of time-series models.  The updated statistics will also will also incorporate updated estimation inputs and population controls from the Census Bureau.  It will be interesting to see how these revisions affect the unusual patterns of the past year or so.  In the meantime, the existing data are clearly indicating improving conditions over the second half of 2014.

Payroll Survey
The improvement seen in the statistics from the household survey are reinforced by recent observations of employment growth from the payroll survey.  The report for November shows an increase of 4,300 jobs for the month (seasonally adjusted), with a 12-month cumulative increase of 22,600.  Assuming that these figures are sustained after the upcoming benchmark revisions (see below), December’s report marked a milestone:  Since the employment trough of February 2010 the Arkansas economy has now added more than 57,000 jobs, bringing total employment to a point slightly higher than it was before the recession officially hit the economy.

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

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

The December employment increase was largely attributable to a gain in Leisure & Hospitality Services.  The not-seasonally adjusted data featured by the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services showed a slight decline in this category,  but the decline was far less than would be expected in a typical December — hence, the gain in seasonally-adjusted employment.  Similar seasonal factors affected Education and Health, and State & Local Government (in both cases, due to winter break at schools).

Over the past twelve months, payroll employment has increased 22,600, with notable gains in two sectors that have been slow to recover from the great recession:  Construction and Manufacturing.  Gains in Education & Health Services and Leisure & Hospitality Services also contributed to the overall year-over-year increase.

Upcoming Benchmark Revisions
When the next payroll data release comes out on March 17, the payroll data will be revised to incorporate new 2014 benchmarks.  We had previously estimated that the revised data will show significantly weaker job growth over the past two years — with downward revisions expected to be in the range of 9 to 10 thousand jobs.  Good news has arrived since those forecasts:  The Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages  statistics for the second quarter of 2014 indicates a sharp upward revision to the current data are in order.  As a result, while we are still anticipating downward revisions to the data for the second half of 2013, more recent data now appear to be more closely aligned with currently published data.  Hence, as shown in the figure below, the revised statistics will show that sluggish job growth prevailed through much of 2011 through 2013, but that growth accelerated sharply in 2014.  It is still possible that the revisions will incorporate QCEW data from the third quarter as well, but those data are not yet available to the public and so are not incorporated in our current expectations.

Sources:  Bureau of Labor Statistics; Institute for Economic Advancement.

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Institute for Economic Advancement.

After revision, our best estimate is that total payroll employment for the latter half of 2014 will be unaffected.  Nevertheless, some of the components of payroll employment are likely to show revised growth patterns.  The set of figures below illustrates the nature (and variety) of some of the expected revisions, using quarterly averaged data.

Sources:  Bureau of Labor Statistics; Institute for Economic Advancement.

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Institute for Economic Advancement.

These expected revisions are, at this point, only estimates.  Especially when it comes to the disaggregated sector-by-sector data, the new figures may differ from these projections.  And although some sectors are likely to experience some downward revisions in the level of employment, the trend over time is positive for the most part — with or without the revisions.

# # #

*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.

Metro Area Unemployment & Employment – November 2014

By , December 31, 2014 8:00 AM

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released new data on metro area unemployment and employment yesterday.  The report noted that unemployment rates in November were down compared to the previous year in 341 of the 372 metropolitan areas in the nation.  The eight metro areas that contain portions of Arkansas were all included in that total.  Not-seasonally adjusted unemployment rates declined by more than a full percentage in each of the state’s metro areas over the past 12 months, with the largest decline being a 2.7 percent drop in Pine Bluff.

In the recent statewide unemployment report, Arkansas’ unemployment rate dropped by three-tenths of a percent in November (seasonally adjusted).  Comparable figures for the state’s metro areas do not uniformly reflect this dramatic decline.  From October to November, data from the Smoothed Seasonally Adjusted Metropolitan Area Estimates show declines of only one-tenth in Fort Smith, Hot Springs, Jonesboro and Memphis.  Texarkana was down two-tenths and Pine Bluff was down three-tenths.  Unemployment rates in Fayetteville and Little Rock were unchanged.  Although the magnitude of unemployment rate declines were smaller for most metro areas than the statewide average, the underlying components were all generally encouraging.  The number of unemployed was down in all eight metro areas, and the number of employed was higher in all except Memphis.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Payroll Employment
Nonfarm payroll employment increased by 0.5% statewide in November, but the gains were not reflected evenly across the state’s metro areas.  In a fact, payroll employment was down in both Hot Springs, Memphis and Pine Bluff.  Employment in Texarkana was unchanged and Little Rock saw only a slight increase.  Compared to a year ago, employment has declined in Fort Smith and Pine Bluff, but has increased in the state’s other metro areas.  Only Jonesboro has surpassed the nationwide growth rate of 2.0%.  In fact, at 2.9%, Jonesboro is the only metro area in the state to be growing faster than the statewide average of 1.5%.  Compared to pre-recession levels of seven years go, employment has increased in Fayetteville and Jonesboro, but is still lagging behind in most other metro areas.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Arkansas Employment and Unemployment – November 2014

By , December 19, 2014 11:55 AM

The latest monthly report on state employment and unemployment adds to recent evidence of a dramatic improvement in labor market conditions in Arkansas.   The headline statistic showed that the unemployment rate dropped 3-tenths of a percent from 6.1% in October (revised) to 5.8% in November.  With that decline, the unemployment rate in Arkansas is now equal to the national unemployment rate.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

The underlying details of household employment all pointed to improving conditions:  The number of unemployed Arkansans declined by nearly 2,200, following a decline of 1,900 in October.  The number of employed increased by 10,300 — the largest monthly increase on record (breaking the record increase of 9,400 for October).   As a result, the labor force has expanded dramatically over the past two months, erasing a large portion of the decline from earlier in the year.  In fact, this is the third consecutive month of strong gains in household employment and labor force participation.

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

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

Payroll Employment
The survey of employers also showed strong job growth in November.  Overall nonfarm payroll employment increased by 7,600 (seasonally adjusted).  As shown in the table below, increases were present in nearly all sectors of the economy (with the exception of Information Services, a relatively small sector).  Gains were particularly prominent in good-producing sectors:  Manufacturing employment was up 1,300 and Construction employment gained 1,400.  Gains in seasonally-adjusted Wholesale and Retail trade indicate that seasonal hiring for the holiday season are larger that would typically be expected.

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

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

Since the employment low-point of February 2010, total employment has increased by over 51,000 and now stands at only 5,700 less than pre-recession levels.  As noted previously, the annual benchmark revisions that will be released next year are likely to show a downward adjustment to the data.  After the expected revision, cumulative employment gains since February 2010 are expected to be approximately 41,800, still 15,200 below the pre-recession level.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

# # #

*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.

 

Metro Area Employment and Unemployment – October 2014

By , December 9, 2014 4:25 PM

Unemployment rates declined in all of Arkansas’ metro areas in October.  On a year-over-year basis, the not-seasonally adjusted numbers showed declines ranging from 1.5% in Fayetteville to 2.9% in Pine Bluff.  The eight metro areas that include parts of Arkansas were among the 354 out of a total of 372 that saw declines from the previous year.  Smoothed seasonally adjusted estimates showed monthly declines in all eight metro areas as well.  Unemployment declined by 0.3% from September to October in Pine Bluff, and 0.2% in Fort Smith and Memphis.  Rates were down by 0.1% in the remaining metro areas.  Moreover, household employment and labor force figures showed monthly increases in all of Arkansas metro areas except Memphis.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Payroll employment reports were more mixed.  Total nonfarm payrolls were down slightly in Fayetteville, Fort Smith and Texarkana, but were higher in Hot Springs, Jonesboro, Memphis and Pine Bluff.  Employment in Little Rock was unchanged.  The increase in Pine Bluff was particularly notable:  up 1.7% for the month.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

There are still only two metro areas in the state that have seen net employment gains compared to pre-recession levels (December 2007):  Fayetteville and Jonesboro.  The unchanged employment figure for Little Rock left the total unchanged since the pre-recession peak.  Three of the state’s metro areas have actually seen continued employment declines since the trough of February 2010:  Fort Smith, Pine Bluff, and Texarkana.

Arkansas Employment and Unemployment – October 2014

By , November 21, 2014 10:28 AM

The latest report on employment and unemployment in Arkansas shows the unemployment rate dropping two-tenths of a percent to 6.0% in October, the lowest level since July 2008.  More importantly, the underlying components of the unemployment rate are moving in a positive direction.  Earlier in the year, a falling unemployment rate was accompanied by a sharply contracting labor force.  The data for October shows a decline in the number of unemployed (-1,994), an increase in employment (+9,430), and an expanding labor force (+7,436).  The increase in labor force participation continues an uptrend that emerged in the September data.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics

Payroll Survey
Data collected from the state’s employers shows a small monthly increase in employment in October.  Nonfarm payroll employment expanded by 800 in October, and is up 14,200 from the previous year (seasonally adjusted).  Notable monthly increases were reported for Manufacturing, Transportation & Utilities, and Education & Health Services.  Employment in Wholesale and Retail trade contracted from September to October.

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

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

Since the employment trough of 2010, the official data show an increase in payroll employment of 44,700, still 12,300 lower than before the 2008-09 recession.  As we reported last month, however, the payroll data for late 2013 are likely to be revised down by approximately 9,400 jobs when the annual benchmark revisions are released in early 2015.  Taking into account these expected revisions, Arkansas payroll employment has increased by approximately 35,300 since February 2010, and remains 21,700 below the level recorded in December 2007.

 # # #

*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.

Metro Area Employment and Unemployment – September 2014

By , October 29, 2014 3:49 PM

In September, unemployment rates edged down in five of Arkansas’ metro areas and were unchanged in the other three.  Smoothed seasonally adjusted estimates of unemployment were down 0.1 percentage point in Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Little Rock, Pine Bluff, and Texarkana.  Rates were unchanged in Hot Springs, Jonesboro, and Memphis.  Since September of 2013, unemployment rates have fallen more than a full percentage in all of the state’s metro areas.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

While unemployment rates continue to trend downward, payroll employment growth rates are diverging among Arkansas metro areas.  In September, employment was down in Hot Springs and Memphis, was unchanged in Pine Bluff, and was up in the remaining MSAs.  The largest increases were in Jonesboro (+1.7%) and Fayetteville (+1.0%).  Over the past 12 months, employment has increased in every metro area except Pine Bluff.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

As show in the last column of the table above and in the chart below, the longer-run trends of payroll employment differ considerably among metro areas.  Fayetteville and Jonesboro continue to see employment growth well above the previous cyclical peak.  As of September, Little Rock joined the list of metro areas where employment exceeded pre-recession levels.  In the remaining metro areas, employment growth since December 2007 remains negative.  In Fort Smith, Pine Bluff and Texarkana, employment has fallen, on net, since the labor market recovery began in February 2010.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Arkansas Employment and Unemployment – September 2014

By , October 21, 2014 2:22 PM

Latest data from the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed the Arkansas unemployment rate ticking down to 6.2% in September, down from 6.3% in August (seasonally adjusted).  The number of unemployed in the household survey declined by about 850, while the number employed increased by more than 4,500.  As a result, the size of the labor force was up by 3,700.  Both employment and labor force participation had been sliding downward since March of this year.  September’s upticks suggest that the downward trends have subsided.

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

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

Payroll Employment
Nonfarm payroll employment increased by 2,900 in September, following a revised increase of 800 in August (seasaonally adjusted).  The not-seasonally adjusted data released by the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services showed a monthly increase of over 15,200.  However, that increase was entirely attributable to the start of the school year.  State and local government employment was up 13,100 (reflecting employment public schools, colleges and universities), while employment in Educational services was up 2,100 (reflecting employment at private schools).  The seasonally adjusted data (shown in the table below) revealed a strong gain in Professional & Business Services (+2,300).  Construction emp0loyment was up slightly (+800) while manufacturing employment declined a bit (-700).

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

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

Overall, the current statistics show an employment increase of 43,400 since the trough of February 2010, leaving the state down by only 13,600 jobs relative to pre-recession levels.  However, the data for the past 18 months is subject to annual benchmark revisions that will ultimately be published in March 2015.  As is the tradition here at the Arkansas Economist, we’ve taken a look at the underlying detailed data in order to anticipate the nature of the visions — an exercise we’ve called “forecasting a revision of history.”

At the Little Rock Regional Economic Briefing last week, we presented the most recent version of the forecasted revision of history.  Using data from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) through March 2014, the next round of revisions to nonfarm payroll employment are expected to show a downward adjustment of approximately 9,400 jobs.  As shown in the figure below, the revisions will primarily effect the spurt of job growth that show up in the current data for the second half of 2014.  After applying the expected revisions to the newly-released statistics, the totals in the table above would be modified to show a net gain of only 34,000 jobs since February 2010, leaving total employment 23,000 below pre-recession levels.

Sources:  Bureau of Labor Statistics (CES, QCEW), and author's calculations.

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics (CES, QCEW), and author’s calculations.

 # # #

*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.

Metro Area Unemployment & Employment – August 2014

By , October 1, 2014 5:06 PM

This morning, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released new information on unemployment and employment in metropolitan areas.  The BLS News Release reported that unemployment rates were down from a year earlier in 322 of the nations 372 metropolitan areas.  All eight of Arkansas’ metro areas were included in that total, with the year-over-year declines ranging from 0.9% in Fayetteville to 1.8% in Pine Bluff.

The not-seasonally adjusted data show that the unemployment fell rather sharply from July to August, but that is a typical seasonal effect.  (For example, over the past 10 years, the not-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for Arkansas has, on average fallen by 0.57% between July and August, while the seasonally adjusted average was +0.03% for the same monthly change.)  Data from the Smoothed Seasonally Adjusted Metropolitan Area Estimates show that there was little change in metro-area unemployment rates after taking account of the usual seasonal swing:  Unemployment rates declined by one-tenth of a percentage point in Fort Smith and Pine Bluff, increased by one-tenth in Memphis, and were unchanged in the remaining metro areas.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Over the past several months, we have noted a sharp decline in labor force participation in Arkansas.  In the report on statewide unemployment in August, we saw a slowdown of that trend.  As shown in the figure below, most of the state’s metro areas have shown a similar downward trend in the size of their labor forces since March 2014.  The weakening of the downward trend is also evident in most of the state’s metro areas (with the notable exception of Memphis).

There is no clear explanation of why we have seen such a sharp downward trend since spring.   One pattern that appears to generally hold in the figure below is the relationship between cumulative labor force contractions and the more recent weakening of the downward trend.  In particular, the metro areas that have experienced the largest cumulative reductions in labor force participation during 2013 and 2014 continue to trend downward.   The weakening of the downward trend is more apparent in metro areas that have only recently been subject to a declining labor force.  In fact, the labor force in Jonesboro — where cumulative increases over the past two years have been the largest — edged slightly higher in August.

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

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

Payroll Employment
Statewide payroll employment growth was essentially zero in August, with metropolitan areas showing a wide range of changes.  From July to August, employment was down in four metro areas (Little Rock, Memphis, Pine Bluff and Jonesboro) and was up in the remaining four (Fayetteville, Texarkana, Fort Smith and Hot Springs).   Over the past year, only Pine Bluff has seen a net reduction in payroll employment (-1.4%), with increases in other metro areas ranging from +0.5% in Fort Smith to +1.9% in Jonesboro.  Compared to pre-recession employment levels, only Jonesboro and Fayetteville have seen net increases.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

 

Arkansas Employment and Unemployment – August 2014

By , September 19, 2014 10:26 AM

The Arkansas unemployment rate ticked up one-tenth of a percent in August to 6.3%.  This was the first increase in the state’s unemployment rate since July of 2013, when the rate increased from 7.6% to 7.7%.  The higher unemployment rate was driven by an increase in the  number of Arkansans unemployed and a decline in the number employed.  The shrinkage of the labor force continued, but it was the smallest decline since a sharp downturn began in April.  Compared to a year ago, the number of unemployed is down by over 20,000 and the unemployment rate is down by 1.4%.  However much of that decline is associated with the contracting labor force, which has fallen by 34,400 since March of this year.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Payroll Employment
Nonfarm payroll employment was essentially unchanged in August (+100 jobs, seasonally adjusted).  Compared to August of 2013, payrolls have increased by 17,600; however, that increase took place almost entirely in the second half of 2013.  Since January of this year, payroll employment has changed little on net (+400).

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Changes in the components of payroll employment were mixed.  Jobs in wholesale trade increased by 1,400 and jobs in Government were down 1,100 — primarily local government employment, which declined by 1,000.  Before seasonal adjustment, local government employment increased by 1,400 due primarily to the start of the school year.  The fact that seasonally-adjusted employment declined shows that the increase in school-related employment was smaller than would typically be expected.

Most sectors were up from a year earlier.  Year-over-year increases in Construction and Manufacturing are particularly encouraging, given the ongoing weakness in those two sectors.  Strong employment gains in Education & Health Services, and in Leisure & Hospitality services are also prominent in the breakdown of job growth.  Three sectors have shown small year-over-year declines:  Information Services, Financial Services, and Government.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

# # #

*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.

Metro Area Unemployment and Employment – July 2014

By , August 27, 2014 12:54 PM

Unemployment rates continued to trend downward in most of Arkansas’ metro areas in July.  However, as with the statewide data, unemployment rates are falling against a backdrop of sharp declines in the labor force.

The typical summer spike in unemployment continued to drive month-to-month changes in the not seasonally adjusted data.  Compared to the July 2013, however, unemployment rates were down by more than a full percentage point for all metro areas except Memphis.  The largest year-over-year declines were in Fort Smith, Jonesboro, and Pine Bluff, all showing declines of 1.7 percentage points.

Adjusting for the predictable summer effect, data from the Smoothed Seasonally Adjusted Metropolitan Area Estimates showed unemployment rates generally falling from June to July.  Rates declined by 0.1 percentage pointes in Fayetteville, Hot Springs and Little Rock; and were down 0.2 percentage points in Jonesboro and Pine Bluff.  Rates in Fort Smith and Texarkana held steady, while the rate in Memphis increased by 0.3 percentage points.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

In the context of the statewide unemployment report, we have noted that the number of employed and the civilian labor force has been declining sharply this summer.   Over the past four months, employment has fallen by 21,632 (-1.7%) and the labor force has contracted by 32,374 (-2.4%).  As shown in the table below, the declines are also reflected in most of the state’s metro areas.  The largest percentage declines are in Fort Smith and Hot Springs.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Payroll Employment
Monthly changes in payroll employment were mixed across Arkansas MSAs.  Employment declined in Pine Bluff, Texarkana and Fort Smith.   Small increases were reported in the state’s remaining metro areas.  The declines in Fort Smith and Pine Bluff represent continued weakness:  Employment is down from a year ago in both of those metro areas.  Compared to pre-recession employment levels, Fayetteville and Jonesboro remain the only metro areas in the state that have seen positive net job growth.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

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