Posts tagged: Unemployment rate

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

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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.

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

Arkansas Employment & Unemployment – July 2014

By , August 18, 2014 10:34 AM

The Arkansas unemployment rate was 6.2% in July, down slightly from a revised 6.3% rate in June.  Unemployment rates for Arkansas and the U.S. have once again converged — the national unemployment rate was also 6.2% in July.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Looking in more detail at the components of the unemployment rate, the number of unemployed was down in July for the 11th consecutive month (-626), but it was the smallest decline since last September.  The number of employed continued the sharp downward trend that has prevailed since April.  In July, the number of employed declined by 7,166, bringing the four month cumulative total to -21,632.  With both the number of employed and unemployed falling, the labor force was down by nearly 8,000 in July, and has dropped by over 32,000 over the past four months.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Payroll Data
The survey of employers showed an increase in Arkansas nonfarm payroll employment in July.  Compared to the previous month, employment was up 2,200 (seasonally adjusted).  [The not-seasonally adjusted data highlighted by the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services showed a sharp decline, but all of those losses were attributable to the summer closure of public schools and universities.]  As shown in the table below, several sectors showed small employment declines in July, but these were offset by gains in Retail Trade, Other services and Government.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

The seasonally adjusted data show a year-over-year increase of 15,200 jobs, with gains in every sector except Information Services.  However, most of those increases took place in the second part of 2013.  Total nonfarm payroll employment has declined, on net, by 1,100 jobs since January of this year.  Payroll employment remains 18,700 below the level that prevailed just before the onset of the 2008-09 recession.

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 & Unemployment – June 2014

By , July 30, 2014 3:06 PM

New statistics on employment and unemployment in Arkansas’ metro areas shows continuing declines in unemployment rates.  However, concerns about statewide labor force participation are also apparent in the metro area data.   As shown in the table below, not-seasonally adjusted unemployment rates have fallen sharply over the past 12 months.  The declines range from -1.2% in Fayetteville, Little Rock and Texarkana to -1.9% in Pine Bluff.  The most recent monthly changes show slight upticks.  However, the change in unemployment from May to June is subject to predictable seasonal increases.  After adjusting for recurring seasonal effects, the seasonally adjusted data show that the unemployment rate declined in June for every metro area except Memphis.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

In the statewide data for June, we noted that the unemployment rate was declining against a backdrop of a declining labor force — particularly over the past three months.  As shown in the following chart, the declining labor force from March through June is distinctive for most of the state’s metro areas as well.  Over the past three months, we see sharp labor force participation falling in every metro area except Memphis.  In some cases (Little Rock, Fort Smith, and Pine Bluff), the downward trend has been ongoing throughout 2014.  Relative to January 2013, the only metro area that has experienced a net increase in its labor force is Jonesboro.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Payroll Data
Information from the survey of employers shows one-month declines in employment for five of Arkansas’ metro areas.  Compared to a year ago, however, only Fort Smith has seen a decrease.  Although net employment has been increasing since February 2010, the cumulative percentage increase for the state has only been 3.1%, and employment in Fort Smith, Pine Bluff and Texarkana has declined, on net, over that period.  Compared to pre-recession employment levels, only Fayetteville and Jonesboro have moved into positive territory.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Arkansas Employment and Unemployment – June 2014

By , July 18, 2014 10:33 AM

The unemployment rate in Arkansas dropped two-tenths of a percentage point in June, falling to 6.2%.  The change matches a similar decline in the U.S. unemployment rate, which stood at 6.1% in June.  The underlying data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Arkansas Department of Workforce Services showed a 10th consecutive monthly decline in the number of unemployed — down nearly 2,600 to approximately 81,600.  As recently as October of last year, the number of unemployed Arkansans remained above 100,000.  Over the past 12 months, the number of unemployed has fallen by over 19,000.

However, the other component of the unemployment rate, the number of employed, continues to be a source of concern.  The household-survey measure of employment fell by 6,700 in June, bringing the cumulative 3-month decline to nearly 14,500.   As a result of these changes, the labor force fell by 9,300 for the month, and has fallen by more than 24,600 over the past three months.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Recent data demonstrate that a decline in the unemployment rate cannot always be interpreted positively.  If, in fact, the decline in the number of unemployed reflects discouraged workers dropping out of the labor force, then the falling unemployment rate might be a misleading signal.  For example, suppose that the decline in unemployment over the past three months was entirely attributable to the discouraged-worker effect:  If we assumed that those 10,234 Arkansans remain unemployed in a true sense of the word, then the measured unemployment rate in June might be more appropriately calculated as 7.0%.   The sweeping assumption that unemployed workers are giving up on their job searches is surely an exaggeration, and the data are subject to future revision.  But as it stands now, the sharp contraction of the Arkansas labor force that we’ve seen over the past three months is a cause for concern.

Payroll Employment
Data from the survey of employers reinforces concern about weak employment growth.  Nonfarm payrolls were down 3,300 in June (seasonally adjusted).  Payroll employment remains more than 14,000 higher than a year ago, but most of those gains occurred during the latter part of 2013.  Over the first 6 months of this year, employment has increased by only 1,700.

As shown in the table below, employment declines hit every category of service-providing sectors.  The largest declines were in Professional & Business Services and Education & Health Services — two areas that have previously been showing strong growth trends.  The news was more positive in the goods-producing sectors.  Manufacturing employment surged by 1,700, and employment in Construction increased as well.  Despite recent gains, employment in both Manufacturing and Construction remain lower than they were at labor market trough in February 2010, and together those two employment categories account for cumulative job losses of over 41,000 since the start of the 2008-09 recession.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

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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.

Metro Area Unemployment and Employment – May 2014

By , July 1, 2014 1:26 PM

Unemployment rates in Arkansas’ metro areas continue to trend downward.  For the period from May 2013 through May 2014, not-seasonally adjusted data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show declines ranging from 0.9 percentage points in Fayetteville and Little Rock to 1.7 percentage points in Memphis.  Statewide, the unemployment rate has fallen 1.1 percentage points over the past 12 months.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

On a month-to-month basis, the not seasonally adjusted data indicate that unemployment rates moved higher in May.   However, this is a typical seasonal effect.  Unemployment rates usually rise in the early to mid-summer — in part due to effects related to the end of the school year.   After adjusting for these recurring seasonal patterns, unemployment rates declined in May for all eight of Arkansas’ metro areas.  The Smoothed Seasonally Adjusted Metropolitan Area Estimates show declines of 0.2 percentage points in Jonesboro, Pine Bluff and Texarkana; and declines of 0.1 percentage points in the other five metro areas.  A graph of the smoothed seasonally-adjusted estimates (below) illustrates the downward trend that has prevailed across all of Arkansas’ metro areas since late last summer.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Payroll Employment
In the other half of the metropolitan area report, payroll employment continued to be disappointingly weak across the state.  Total employment was down in six of the eight metro areas, with small increases in Fayetteville and Memphis.  Compared to a year ago, employment is higher in all metro areas except Texarkana — but the gains are relatively small.  Year-over-year employment growth has been positive but less than one percent in Fort Smith, Memphis and Pine Bluff.  Payroll employment is still lower than its pre-recession peak an all metro areas except Fayetteville and Jonesboro.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Arkansas Employment and Unemployment – May 2014

By , June 20, 2014 12:44 PM

The Arkansas unemployment rate declined another two-tenths of a percent in May, falling to 6.4%.  The unemployment rate has fallen for eight consecutive months, and is now 1.1% lower than it was in May of 2013.  The Arkansas rate has been declining along with the national unemployment rate, which stood at 6.3% in May. URATES-AR&US-0514

For the second consecutive month, however, the unemployment rate drop was accompanied by a sharp decline in the labor force.  The number of unemployed dropped by 2,637 in May, and was down 7,649 since March.  But we have not been seeing a commensurate increase in the number of  employed Arkansans.  Rather, the number of employed has declined by 7,776 over the past two months.  As a result, the labor force declined by 15,425 during April and May.  The declining labor force is something of a puzzle.  With labor market trends appearing to be on an improving trend, we would expect to see discouraged job-seekers re-enter the labor force, boosting participation rates and unemployment rates.  Instead, we’re seeing the reverse.  It might be the case that some job-seekers are leaving the labor force out of frustration, but it might also be the case that job seekers are leaving the Arkansas labor force in favor of finding jobs elsewhere.  The declining labor force might also reflect a cohort of newly retired baby-boomers dropping out of active labor force participation.  Two months is not long enough to establish a trend, but this development is worthy of monitoring closely over the next few months.

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

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

Payroll Employment
The separate survey of employers showed nonfarm payroll employment down by 400 in May (seasonally adjusted).  Sectors losing jobs in May included Construction, Manufacturing, and Retail Trade.  Employment was down in most service sectors as well.  A notable exception was Education and Health services, which increased by 2,500 jobs.  Over a longer span of time, payroll employment is maintaining a respectable growth rate.  Since May 2013, total employment is up by over 14,000 jobs, and we’ve seen the creation of nearly 39,000 jobs since the trough of February 2010.  Nevertheless, Arkansas employment remains more that 18,000 jobs lower than it was before the recession began in December 2007.

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

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

Considering the employment gains of the past 12 months, there are two distinct subperiods.  During the latter part of 2013 we saw significant job growth, with an increase of nearly 15,000 jobs in the period from May 2013 through January 2014.  So far this year, however, job growth has stalled.  From January through May 2014, total payroll employment has declined slightly.  Some of the slowdown is likely associated with harsh winter weather that we experienced in the first part of the calendar year.  More recent weakness in payroll employment growth parallels the reversal of employment gains that we’ve seen in the household survey.

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 & Employment – April 2014

By , May 28, 2014 4:42 PM

The national and state unemployment reports for April had shown a distinctive combination of statistics:  relatively large declines in unemployment rates, accompanied by sharp drop-offs in labor force participation.  Data for Arkansas metro areas released this morning show the same pattern.

Compared to a year ago, unemployment rates have dropped significantly.  The not-seasonally adjusted data in the table below show declines ranging from 0.8% in Fayetteville and Little Rock to 1.9% in Memphis.  According to this morning’s news release, Arkansas’ metro areas were among the 357 of 372 metro areas nationwide that experienced declining unemployment rates over the past 12 months.

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

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

As was true for the state and national data, monthly changes in the unemployment rate were uncharacteristically large.  According to the smoothed seasonally adjusted data shown below, unemployment rates dropped by as much as 0.4% in Memphis and Pine Bluff.

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

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

But the April declines in unemployment rates are not unambiguously positive news.  As was the case with the state and national data, the changes in metro area unemployment rates were driven by declining labor force participation.  The smoothed-seasonally adjusted data show labor force declines in April ranged from 0.3% in Memphis to 0.8% in Fort Smith.  The concern is that the unemployment rate is not falling because more unemployed are finding jobs, but because more unemployed are becoming discouraged and leaving the labor force (or the state).

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

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

Payroll Employment
The data from the separate survey of employers does little to assuage concerns about the employment statistics from the household survey.  Monthly changes in nonfarm payrolls were mixed around the state:  employment declined in Fort Smith, Memphis and Pine Bluff, but increased in the state’s other metro areas.  Nevertheless, year-over-year gains have generally been modest.  Jonesboro and Fayetteville have seen sizable gains in employment over the past 12 months, but gains in the state’s other metro areas have been relatively small.  Employment in Pine Bluff continues to decline.  Compared to pre-recession employment levels, only Fayetteville and Jonesboro have surpassed previous peaks.

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

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

The April employment statistics represent just one monthly observation.  Recent employment reports have painted a picture of improving labor market conditions–with unemployment falling and labor force participation rising.  The April data broke from these patterns, but it is too soon to say whether this represents a weakening of previous trends or simply a one-month anomaly.

Arkansas Employment and Unemployment – April 2014

By , May 16, 2014 3:04 PM

The unemployment rate in Arkansas fell three-tenths of one percent in April to 6.6%, the lowest unemployment rate since December 2008.  The relatively sharp decline corresponds to a 0.4% drop in the national unemployment rate in April.  For both the state and the nation, however, the news of a sharp declines in unemployment rates is not unambiguously positive:  the declines took place in the context of sharp drops in the size of the labor force.  For Arkansas, specifically, the number of unemployed declined by over 5,000 but there was no corresponding increase in household employment.  In fact, the number of employed declined by 3,200.  Although the report represents only one month of data, the concern is that the drop in unemployment was caused by discouraged workers leaving the labor force (or the state).

Over a slightly longer term perspective, April represents a set-back relative to the positive trends that have prevailed for the past several months.  Since August 2013, the number of employed is still up by more than 12,800 and the number of unemployed is down by 15, 280.  But these changes imply that the labor force has declined, on net, by over 2,400.

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 concurred with the household survey’s lack of employment growth:  Nonfarm payroll employment declined slightly in April (-500, seasonally adjusted).  Declines were spread across several service-providing sectors, including a drop of 1,300 in Leisure & Hospitality services.  On the other hand, goods-producing sectors added jobs in April.  Manufacturing and Construction showed gains for the month, and employment in both sectors remain higher than levels of a year ago.

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

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

# # #

*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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