Arkansas Employment and Unemployment – April 2018

By , May 18, 2018 10:51 AM

The latest data on state-level employment and unemployment continue to suggest slowing job growth in Arkansas.

The unemployment rate was unchanged from March at 3.8% — up 0.2 percentage points from a year ago.  In the household survey, the number of employed was down for the seventh consecutive month and the number of employed was up for the fifth month in a row.  The changes are small (and not statistically significant), but they suggest a clear slowdown in labor market growth compared to a year ago.

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 declined by 1,500 March to April (seasonally adjusted).  The number of employed in both the Retail Trade and Leisure & Hospitality sectors was up in April, but the increases were not as large as typically expected for a March-to-April change.  Consequently, on a seasonally-adjusted basis, employment in those two sectors led the list of seasonally-adjusted job losers for the month.  Sectors adding jobs included Professional & Business Services, Other Services, and Manufacturing.  Over the past 12 months, Professional and Business Services and Manufacturing have been leading the way on job growth.  In Manufacturing, the employment gains have come from both durable and nondurable goods sectors.

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

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

As illustrated in the figure below, both sources of employment data for Arkansas are indicating a growth slowdown compared to the trends of 2014-2016.  With unemployment remaining at the historically low rate of 3.8 percent, it is perhaps not surprising that ongoing job growth is experiencing a slowdown.  But while the pace of employment expansion is slowing, there is no indication of a significant contraction.  Rather, it appears that employment in some service-providing sectors is stabilizing after a period of relatively rapid growth.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Arkansas Home Sales – 2018:Q1

By , May 4, 2018 4:22 PM

The Arkansas Realtors® Association released new home sales figures for February and March this week.  February’s sales total was up 9.1% over the previous year, but March’s figure was 3.4% lower than in 2017.   Although the March statistics might appear to represent a sharp slowdown, monthly ups and downs can be deceptively volatile–particularly in comparison to previous-year figures.  As shown in the figure below, home sales exhibited an uncharacteristic surge in March 2017–up more than 16% from 2016.  This surge was followed by an atypical seasonal dip in April.  So when it comes to measuring year-over-year growth in March 2018, we’re beginning from an unusually high base.  The March 2017 surge and subsequent slowdown in April has two implications:  (1.) it is likely that some of the strength in March 2017 was the result of accelerated closing dates that “stole” growth from April, and (2.) growth in home sales in April 2018 is likely to look fairly strong, being measured from an unusually low base period in 2017.

Source:  Arkansas Realtors® Association

Source: Arkansas Realtors® Association

As a way of adjusting for some of the month-to-month variability in not-seasonally adjusted data, the figure below shows quarterly totals that have been adjusted for seasonal variation.  With these modifications, the upward trend in home sales from 2013 through 2017 is evident.  Although home sales in 2018:Q1 proceeded at a slower seasonally-adjusted rate than the previous quarter, they were higher than in the first quarter of 2017.  The cumulative year-to-date figures provided by the ARA indicate that first quarter sales were up 2.3% from the previous year.

Source:  Arkansas Realtors® Association; Seasonal adjustment by the Arkansas Economic Development Institute

Source: Arkansas Realtors® Association; Seasonal adjustment by the Arkansas Economic Development Institute

The pace of home sales is now well beyond the peak recorded prior to the housing “meltdown” of 2007, but there is still room for further expansion.  As long as mortgage rates do not rise too quickly, we are expecting continued growth in home sales over the remainder of the year.  In fact, increases in mortgage rates might provide a temporary boost to home sales as prospective buyers rush to get in on the relatively low rates.  Higher borrowing costs are expected to contribute to somewhat lower home sales in the future, but perhaps not until 2019.

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Arkansas GDP – 2017:Q4

By , May 4, 2018 3:43 PM

In the latest report on state-level GDP, Arkansas registered an increase of 2.5% (seasonally adjusted annual rate).  The fourth quarter increase was slightly lower than the comparable national-average figure of 2.7%, and ranked #26 among the 50 states.  The Bureau of Economic Analysis reported that some of the key contributors to GDP growth in the fourth quarter were mining and construction (particularly in the Texas, the fastest-growing state); as well as durable goods manufacturing and professional, scientific and technical services.  On the other hand, agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting decreased for the fifth consecutive quarter, dampening growth in the Plains states in particular.

GDP2018Q4-map

As shown in the table below, many of the sectors that showed notable growth nationwide also contributed to Arkansas’ overall growth rate.  In addition, nondurable goods manufacturing played a role in boosting Arkansas’ relative growth and agriculture, etc., made a positive contribution.

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

Data Revisions
Today’s release also included revisions to previously published data for 2014:Q1 to 2017:Q3.  The newly updates, which incorporate new and revised source data, resulted in a considerable reduction in Arkansas’ reported growth over the past year.

 

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Metro Area Employment and Unemployment – March 2018

By , May 3, 2018 5:10 PM

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released new data on metro area employment and unemployment this week, including the long-awaited revisions of the unemployment data.  For Arkansas metro areas, the revisions mirrored the statewide revisions that were released in late February:  Unemployment rates were revised lower for late 2016 and into early 2017, revised higher for much of the remainder of 2017, ending the calendar-year 2017 at about the same place as the originally published figures [see figure].

New data for March showed that unemployment rates were generally up slightly from a year earlier.   The unemployment rate in Fort Smith has increased only 0.1 percentage points since March 2017, while the rate in Hot Springs is up by 0.6 percentage points.  The only exception is Memphis, where the unemployment rate is 0.7 percentage points lower than a year earlier.

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

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

Seasonally adjusted unemployment rates edged up slightly from February to March.  Rates were up 0.1 percentage point in Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Jonesboro and Little Rock.  Larger increases were registered in Hot Springs, Pine Bluff and Texarkana.  The unemployment rate in Memphis was unchanged.

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

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

The figure below shows the paths of unemployment rates from January 2015 through March 2018.  Although rates have tended to moves slightly higher in recent months, they have generally remained little changed after falling near their current levels in early 2016.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Payroll Employment
Nonfarm payroll employment increased statewide from February to March, but declined in Hot Springs, Pine Bluff, and Texarkana.  Compared to a year earlier, payroll employment is up about 2% in Northwest Arkansas, Jonesboro and Memphis.  Employment in Central Arkansas is up 1.4%.  Other parts of the state have seen slower growth:  employment levels in Pine Bluff and Texarkana are essentially unchanged from a year earlier, while Fort Smith and Hot Springs have experienced declines.

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

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

The figure below illustrates the paths of nonfarm payroll employment since 2007 (quarterly averages).  Both the Northeast and Northwest regions of the state have experienced consistent growth since the end of the “Great Recession” and the Little Rock metro area reached net positive territory in 2015.   Employment in other Arkansas metro areas — including Hot Springs, Texarkana, Fort Smith and Pine Bluff — remain below their levels of a decade earlier.

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

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

 

 

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Arkansas Employment and Unemployment – March 2018

By , April 20, 2018 11:52 AM

Arkansas’ unemployment rate remained unchanged at 3.8% in March.  The number of unemployed inched up by 549 and is now up 939 over the first three months of the year.  The number of employed declined for the sixth consecutive month, falling by 1,291 in March.  Over the past six months, this measure of employment is down by 5,741.  As a result of the declines in the number of employed, the labor force has also been trending downward in recent months, falling by 4,893 since September of last year.

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

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

Payroll Employment
In contrast to the household employment measure, nonfarm payroll employment increased by 2,600 in March (seasonally adjusted).  Moreover, the employment total for February was revised upward by 1,800.  Increases were reported for most sectors, including Construction and Manufacturing.  Slight declines were registered for Wholesale Trade and Information Services, but most other service-providing sectors increased from the previous month (with the exception of Other Services, which was down by 800 jobs).  Compared a a year ago, total employment is up by 4,500 — about 0.4%.

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

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

The payroll statistics are generally considered the more accurate of the two employment surveys, and household employment has shown some particularly unusual patterns over the past two years.  Accordingly, the declines registered in the household survey should not be taken as a signal of a significant employment contraction.  Nevertheless, the fact that both surveys are showing weakness compared to a year ago does seem to indicate at least a slowdown in employment growth.

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 here:  Table-Seasonally Adjusted NFPE.

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Metro Area Employment and Unemployment – February 2018

By , April 4, 2018 1:12 PM

New data on employment and unemployment was released this morning by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).  The BLS database for metro area unemployment rates and related measures is not yet updated to reflect annual data revisions, so we are limited to year-to-year comparisons of not seasonally adjusted figures.  As shown in the table below, unemployment rates in Arkansas metro areas have generally stabilized over the past year.  From February 2017 to February 2018, unemployment rates were unchanged statewide, as well as in Fayetteville and Fort Smith.  With the exception of Memphis, other MSAs that include parts of Arkansas showed year-to-year changes of only 0.1 to 0.2 percentage points.

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

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

Nonfarm payroll employment was unchanged or higher in most of Arkansas’ metro areas in February.  Fayetteville, Jonesboro and Pine Bluff each registered increases of 0.3%.  The only metro area to experience a monthly decline was a Little Rock.  Compared to February 2017, employment is up in all metro areas except Fort Smith.

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

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

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Arkansas Employment and Unemployment – February 2018

By , March 23, 2018 11:02 AM

After recent data revisions reduced estimated employment growth considerably for 2017, incoming figures for 2018 indicate a continuing trend of stagnant growth.  Household employment was down by 1,800 in February, following a January decline of 1,900.  The number of unemployed was essentially unchanged in February, but has been creeping upward for nearly a year.

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

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

As a result of the declines in employment so far in 2018, the Arkansas unemployment rate edged up 0.1 percentage point in February to 3.8%.  By itself, the uptick is not important (resulting from rounding the change from 3.746 in January to 3.752 in February) and is not even close to statistically significant.  In fact, although Arkansas’ unemployment rate remains lower than the national average of 4.1%, that difference is not statistically significant either.  Nevertheless, the important point is that Arkansas’ unemployment rate remains exceptionally low by historical standards.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Payroll Employment
Arkansas nonfarm payroll employment also registered a slight decline in February — down 500 jobs (seasonally adjusted). The January figure was revised downward by 400 jobs as well.  The data continue a trend of near zero growth:  Over the past 12 months, payroll employment is up by 2,500 jobs but most of that gain came in the increase from February to March of last year.  Since March 2017, the net increase in Arkansas nonfarm payroll employment has been only 100 jobs.

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

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

By sector, the February employment decline was the result of lower employment in Manufacturing, Wholesale Trade,  and Business & Professional Services.  Leisure & Hospitality Services and Other Services registered monthly gains.  Compared to a year ago, employment in Manufacturing and several service-providing sectors is up, while employment is lower in Retail Trade and Information Services, in particular.

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

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

Two Measures of Employment
The ongoing recent trend of zero employment growth is supported by both the household and payroll data.  As shown in the figure below, the post-revision trends in these two employment measures are suggesting similar stories.  Fairly rapid employment growth in 2014 through 2016 gave way to a slowdown — and more recently a slight downturn — in both series.

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 here:  Table-Seasonally Adjusted NFPE.

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Arkansas Personal Income, 2017:Q4

By , March 22, 2018 3:07 PM

Total personal income in Arkansas increased by 1.1% in the fourth quarter of 2017, matching the pace of the national aggregate.  For the year, Arkansas income was up 3.2% in 2017 compared to 2016.  Arkansas annual income growth slightly exceeded the national average and ranked the 16th highest among the 50 states.

PI 2017 map

Overall, personal income growth in Arkansas continues to match the pace of the national total.  Since the previous cyclical peak (in 2008:Q2), total income has increased by 30.6% in Arkansas and by 30.9% nationwide.  Since the trough of the last recession (2010:Q1), the annual growth rates of income in Arkansas and the U.S. have both been 4.1%.

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

The breakdown by major components of income in the fourth quarter shows slightly slower wage and salary growth in Arkansas than in the rest of the nation, while proprietors’ income and dividends, interest, & rent grew at slightly higher rates.  In the annual averages, Arkansas growth exceeded the nation’s primarily due to farm income (which also shows through to a higher growth rate of total proprietors’ income).

Source:  Bureau of Economic Analysis

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

The breakdown of earnings growth by industry shows a sectoral growth pattern similar to that of the nation as a whole (with the exception of strong farm income in Arkansas).  Earning from mining fell faster in Arkansas, while the growth rates of earnings in manufacturing (both durable and nondurable goods) was higher.  Earnings in the information sector were down in Arkansas and the growth rate of transportation and warehousing earnings (an important component of Arkansas personal income) was well below the national average.

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

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Metro Area Employment and Unemployment – January 2018 (and 2017 revisions)

By , March 16, 2018 4:33 PM

New and revised data on metro area employment and unemployment has been coming out in drips and drabs, with the latest information on January unemployment rates coming out this morning.  The news release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics summarized the January unemployment rates, by pointing out “the unemployment rates were lower in January than a year earlier in 337 of the 388 metropolitan areas, higher in 39 areas, and unchanged in 12 areas.”  As shown in the table below, unemployment rates in six Arkansas metro areas were among those that experienced increases since January 2017.   Rates were lower in Memphis and Texarkana, while Pine Bluff was unchanged.

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

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

The not-seasonally adjusted data have only been partly revised, and the seasonally adjusted estimates for metro areas have not yet been updated.  The fully-revised data are scheduled to be available April 20, 2018.

Payroll Employment
Data on nonfarm payroll employment have been fully revised as of Monday’s release of the annual benchmark revisions.  The latest data, for January, showed monthly employment increases in Fort Smith, Jonesboro and Texarkana.  Little Rock and Pine Bluff saw monthly declines, while employment in Fayetteville, Hot Springs and Memphis was unchanged.  Over the most recent 12 months, employment has increased in Fayetteville, Jonesboro, Little Rock and Memphis.  Year-over-year declines were recorded for Fort Smith, Pine Bluff and Texarkana.

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

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

Payroll Employment Revisions
As reported earlier this week, the nonfarm payroll employment figures for Arkansas statewide were revised downward for 2016 and 2017, with a net downward revision as of December 2017 of 9,600 jobs.  As shown in the table below, the data for most of Arkansas metro areas were revised upward, not downward.  Excluding Memphis (which includes only one county in Arkansas), the aggregate revision to the December 2017 metro area employment levels was an increase of 3,900 jobs.  The obvious conclusion is that the statewide negative revisions to the employment data were concentrated in the non-metropolitan counties of the state.

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

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

Moreover, the growth rates of metro area employment were revised upward in many cases over the revision period (April 2016 – December 2017).  The two-year growth rates in the table show upward revisions for the relatively rapidly growing metro areas of Fayetteville, Jonesboro and Little Rock.  Employment growth in Memphis was also revised higher.  The revision for Pine Bluff showed a slightly slower rate of contraction than indicated by previously reported data.  The previously-published and revised paths of metro are employment are illustrated in a series of charts below.

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

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

 

 

 

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Arkansas Employment and Unemployment – January 2018 (and 2017 revisions)

By , March 12, 2018 1:47 PM

New data on state-level employment and unemployment were released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics this morning.  As we previously reported, revised statistics from the household survey had smoothed some of the ups and downs we saw in the original 2017 data.  In particular, strong growth early in the year and sharp declines later in the year were largely revised away, leaving a modest growth trend followed by a slowdown.  The new figures for January 2018 fit well into that revised picture.  The number of employed Arkansans declined by 1,521 in January — the fourth consecutive monthly decline.  Meanwhile, the number of unemployed was up by 396.  Monthly changes in the number of unemployed have had some ups and downs over the past year, but overall the trend has been for higher unemployment figures:  Since January 2017, the number of unemployed has risen by 1,156.

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

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

In terms of the unemployment rate, the revised figures showed that Arkansas’ rate has been stable at 3.7% for most of the last year (dipping briefly to 3.6% in early 2017).  Arkansas’ unemployment rate remained at 3.7% in January 2018 and remains slightly lower than the national unemployment rate of 4.1%.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Payroll Employment – REVISIONS
Today’s release included the annual benchmark revisions for state-level nonfarm payroll employment.  As shown in the figure below, the pattern of revisions is similar to what we saw in the household survey:  Much of the strong growth originally reported during the first half of 2017 was revised downward, but some of the weakness reported toward the end of the year was also mitigated by the revisions.  For the period December 2017 through December 2017, job growth was originally reported to be 11,300 jobs (0.9%), while the revised figures show net growth of only 6,100 jobs (0.5%).

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

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

The revisions to the payroll data represent the annual benchmark process, which incorporates more accurate source data from April 2016 forward. Seasonal adjustment factors were revised back to the the beginning of January 2013.  Although the bulk of the revisions affect levels of employment for 2017, the figure for total nonfarm payroll employment illustrates that 2016 employment levels were also affected.  The following table reports the magnitude of revisions by sector — as of December 2017 — along with previously-reported and revised two-year growth rates for the major categories of total payroll employment.

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

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

Payroll Employment – January 2018
Arkansas nonfarm payroll employment rose by 1,300 in January and was up 5,600 from a year earlier (revised, seasonally adjusted data).  The not-seasonally adjusted data reported in the news release from the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services showed a decline of 22,000 jobs from December 2017 to January 2018, reflecting the substantial seasonal employment reduction that takes place after the end-of-year holiday season.  After adjustment for this predictable pattern, the seasonally adjusted figures show mixed changes.  Monthly declines tended to be in line with lower trends in some sectors, including Mining & Logging, Construction, Retail Trade, Transportation & Utilities, Information Services, and Leisure & Hospitality Services.  In each of those “supersectors,” employment declined not only over the month of January, but also on net over the previous year.  The strongest growth sectors continue to be Professional & Business Services and Education & Health Services.

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 here:  Table-Seasonally Adjusted NFPE.

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