Posts tagged: Unemployment rate

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

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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 & 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)

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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 & Employment – March 2014

By , April 29, 2014 2:49 PM

Unemployment rates were lower in March than a year earlier in all of Arkansas’ metropolitan areas.  With the annual revisions now complete, estimates of metro unemployment rates for late 2012 and early 2013 are now generally reported to be 0.3 to 0.5 percentage points higher than previously published.  Consequently, the newly-published unemployment rates are, in some cases, not much lower than the rates initially reported a year ago.  But with the revised statistics, year-over-year declines in unemployment range from 0.3% in Fayetteville to 1.2% in Fort Smith and Memphis.  Over the same period, the statewide unemployment rate declined by 0.5%.

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

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

Smoothed seasonally adjusted estimates for March show monthly declines in seven of eight metro areas in Arkansas, with Fayetteville’s rate unchanged from February to March.  The largest monthly declines were in Hot Springs and Texarkana.

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

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

The figure below shows time-series for the smoothed seasonally-adjusted estimates.  Unemployment rates have declined substantially in all of Arkansas’ metro areas over the past 3 to 6 months.  The largest declines were generally in metro areas with the highest unemployment rates.  Since September 2013, rates in Memphis, Hot Springs and Fort Smith declined by a full percentage point or more.  As of March, all metro areas except Memphis and Pine Bluff had unemployment rates below 7%.

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

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

Payroll Employment
Nonfarm payroll employment increased in four of eight Arkansas metro areas in March.  Employment declined for the month in Fayetteville, Fort Smith, and Hot Springs, and was unchanged in Pine Bluff.  The largest gain was in Texarkana, where a 1.5% increase offset losses from the previous 11 months.  Compared to a year ago, employment was up in six metro areas, with the largest increase in Jonesboro (+3.5%).  Compared to pre-recession levels, employment is higher in only two metro areas:  Fayetteville and Jonesboro.  Statewide, employment remains 1.5% below its level in December 2007.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics

Arkansas Employment and Unemployment – March 2014

By , April 18, 2014 1:03 PM

The unemployment rate in Arkansas dropped 2-tenths of 1 percent in March, falling to 6.9%. Today’s reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Department of Workforce Services represented the seventh consecutive month in which the number of the state’s unemployed declined and the number employed increased.  Since August of last year, the number of unemployed has fallen by over 10,000 and the number of employed has increased by 16,000.  With the unemployment rate below 7% for the first time since January 2009, the unemployment rate is now only 2-tenths of a percent higher than the nationwide average.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Payroll Employment
February payroll employment totals were revised downward by 2,200, but the March figures were up 1,200 from the revised level.  Since August 2013, payroll employment has increased by 17,000.  As shown in the table below, employment increased in every non-government service sector in March.  In the not-seasonally adjusted data reported by the Department of Workforce services, construction and manufacturing were also up for the month, but those gains were attributable to typical spring rebound effects.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Compared to a year ago, payroll employment is up 12,900, with increases in nearly every sector.  Total employment remains 17,800 below pre-recession levels.

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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 Employment & Unemployment – February 2014

By , April 9, 2014 5:31 PM

New data on metro area employment and unemployment came out this morning, covering February 2014.  Although unemployment data included revised statistics for February 2013, the fully revised series were still not available (nor were the revised figures for smoothed seasonally adjusted estimates).  The full series of revised data are scheduled to be released April 18.

In the meantime, the new unemployment data show a similar pattern to the figures recently released for January.  Specifically, unemployment rates for February 2013 were revised upward for all of the state’s metro areas, with the revisions ranging from +0.2% to +0.4%.   But compared to these upwardly-revised rates from February 2013, unemployment rates in February 2014 were down in all 8 metro areas.  The largest year-over-year declines were recorded for Fort Smith (-1.4%) and Memphis (-1.1%).  Smaller declines were reported for Pine Bluff and Texarkana.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

From January to February, nonfarm payroll employment was up in four of the state’s metro areas (Hot Springs, Jonesboro, Memphis, and Texarkana), unchanged  in three (Fayetteville, Little Rock, and Pine Bluff), and declined in Fort Smith.  Compared to February 2013, payroll employment was higher in all areas except Pine Bluff and Texarkana.  The largest year-over-year percentage gains were for Hot Springs (+2.9%) and Jonesboro (+2.7%).  Fayetteville and Jonesboro remain the only metro areas in the state that have higher employment now than pre-recession levels.

MSA-NFPE-0214-tab

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Arkansas Employment & Unemployment – February 2014

By , March 28, 2014 10:55 AM

The February labor market reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed another month of positive employment growth for the state.  The headline statistic was a decline in the unemployment rate from 7.3% to 7.1%.   The national unemployment rate ticked upward by 0.1% in February, so the drop in Arkansas’ rate brought the gap between the state and national unemployment rates down to 0.4%.  The Arkansas unemployment rate has now fallen 0.6% in the past 6 months, and it is 0.4% lower than a year ago.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

The underlying data from the household survey showed a continuation–and acceleration–of recent positive trends.  The number of unemployed declined by nearly 2,900, bringing the cumulative 6-month decline to more than 7,900.  The number of employed rose by more than 5,300, raising the 6-month increase to over 13,700.

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

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

Payroll Survey
The report on nonfarm payroll employment was similarly upbeat.  The number of jobs increased by 800 in February (seasonally adjusted), following an upward revision to the data from January.  After two years of stagnant job reports, payroll employment has increased by 18,000 over the past 6 months.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

The table below breaks down the recent employment gains by sector.  The data show another strong month for goods-producing sectors, with Construction up by 800 and Manufacturing up by 700.  In the past 6 months we’ve seen a total increase of 6,600 in these two sectors alone.  Employment changes in service-providing sectors were mixed in February, with increases in Retail Trade and Education & Health Services offset by losses on Professional & Business Services, Financial Services, and Other Services.  Since the employment trough of February 2010 Arkansas has seen a cumulative increase of 40,200 jobs, but we remain 16,800 jobs below the employment levels that prevailed before the recession of 2008-09.

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.

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