Institute for Economic Advancement

Category: Uncategorized

Arkansas Employment and Unemployment – March 2017

By , April 21, 2017 1:06 PM

The Arkansas unemployment rate set another new record low in March: 3.6%.  Having declined by 0.1 percentage point in each of the past four months, the state’s unemployment rate is now 0.9% lower than the national average.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

March’s decline in the unemployment rate was underpinned by an increase in the number of employed (+4,428) and a decline in the number unemployed (-1,240).  As a result, the participation rate was up for the second consecutive month, after declining steadily during 2016 and into the first part of this year.

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 was essentially unchanged in March (seasonally adjusted).  Professional and Business Services continued to show strong growth, increasing by 1,200 jobs from February to March.  Education and Health Services showed an uncharacteristic decline for the month, but remains the single largest generator of job growth among the major super-sectors over the past 12 months.  Construction employment would ordinarily be expected to increase this time of year, but the warm early spring months was associated with earlier-than-expected increases.  As a result, with not-seasonally adjusted employment unchanged in the construction sector in March, the seasonally-adjusted figures register a decline of 800 jobs.  Manufacturing continues to show signs of improvement, having added a cumulative total of 3,100 jobs over the past year.

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

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

Compared to its pre-recession level (December 2007), Arkansas employment has increased by 33,100 jobs — about 2.8% growth.  Over the same period, employment nationally has increased by 5.3%.  That long-run comparison includes a period of relatively stagnant job growth in Arkansas — from around 2011 through 2013.  More recently, Arkansas employment has tracked the national growth rate more closely: Since the end of 2013, Arkansas employment has expanded by 5.7%, compared to 6.2% nationwide.

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.

Print Friendly

Arkansas Employment and Unemployment – February 2017

By , March 27, 2017 1:23 PM

The February state employment report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics was a strong report for Arkansas overall.  The headline statistic was another decline in the state’s unemployment rate, down to 3.7%.  That represents a new record low for Arkansas’ unemployment rate, and is one full percentage point lower than the U.S. unemployment rate for February.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

The underlying data from the household survey showed that the number of unemployed Arkansans declined by over one thousand, while the number employed rose nearly 2,500.  After drifting downward for the past 10 months, the labor force increased by 1,346 in February.

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

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

With the Arkansas unemployment rate hitting new record lows, it is useful to note that changes in labor force participation rates have complicated the interpretation of the unemployment statistics.  When the state’s unemployment rate was at a cyclical low of around 5% before the 2008-09 recession, the labor force participation rate in Arkansas was as high as 64%.  The participation rate has fallen sharply since that time and is currently near 58%.  That is, the fraction of the state’s population that is employed or even looking for work now has fallen by around 5-6% over the past decade.  If the workers how have dropped out of the labor force were to be considered officially “unemployed,” the current unemployment rate would be approximately 12%.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Payroll Employment
Nonfarm payroll employment rose sharply in February, up by 6,100 (seasonally adjusted*).  The percentage increase for the month (o.5%) was the second-fastest growth rate in the nation (Montana and Nebraska saw increases of 0.6%).  Moreover, the employment total for January was revised upward by nearly 2,000 jobs.

Job growth was distributed across a wide range of sectors.  Goods-producing sectors, in particular, had a very strong month, with Mining and Logging, Construction and Manufacturing all posting gains.  On the service-providing side, Professional & Business Services and Education & Health Services continued to expand at a healthy pace.

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

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

Over the past 12 months, Arkansas payrolls have expanded by 16,300 — a growth pace of about 1.3%.  Over the same period, U.S. job growth has been around 1.6%.

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.

Print Friendly

Arkansas Employment and Unemployment – January 2017

By , March 13, 2017 6:05 PM

Today’s state employment report featured a new record low unemployment rate for Arkansas, 3.8%.  Previously published figures had shown a 3.8% unemployment rate back in May of 2016, but recent data revisions eliminated that transitory dip in the data.  With the latest downtick, Arkansas’ unemployment rate in January was a full percentage point lower than the national average.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Underlying the unemployment rate itself, the number of unemployed dropped by 2,098 in January, while the number of employed increased by 823.  On net, therefore, the labor force contracted by 1,275 for the month.

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

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

Payroll Data
Nonfarm payroll employment declined by 4,300 in January.  In a reversal of typical patterns, goods-producing sectors added jobs in January, while service-providing sectors shed jobs during the month.  Construction and Manufacturing showed increases of 300 and 700 workers, respectively.  Meanwhile, employment in service-providing sectors was down by 5,300.  The declines were broadly based, with sectors losing jobs including Wholesale Trade, Transportation and Utilities, Information Services, Professional and Business Services, and Leisure and Hospitality.

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

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

Compared to a year ago, total employment is up by 11,300.  After data revisions (see below), growth in Manufacturing employment is looking more healthy, up by 2,300 over the past 12 months.  The bulk of job growth is taking place in key service sectors, Education and Health Services up 6,800, Professional and business services up 300, and Other Services up 2,100.

Revisions to Payroll Data
Today’s report included the annual benchmark revisions to the payroll data.  Data from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW), which is more complete and accurate than the monthly payroll employment statistics, had led us to expect a modest downward revision to total employment levels for the state.  However, the revised data revealed a small upward adjustment, amounting to about 800 jobs.  After revision, total payroll employment shows a growth rate of 1.2% from December 2015 through December 2016 (up from an original estimate of 0.4%).  Growth for the previous year was revised downward slightly from 2.3% to 2.0%.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Revisions to the not-seasonally adjusted data covered the period March 2015 through December 2016.  Although there are small changes in the data for previous periods, these are only minor adjustments to seasonal factors.  Hence, the economically significant revisions are limited to the last two years.  The table below summarizes the impact of the revisions by sector, reporting on the change in the level of employment by sector as of December 2016, and comparing the pre-revision to post-revision growth rates for the two-year period December 2014 to December 2016.

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.

 

Print Friendly

Revised Unemployment Rates for Arkansas

By , February 28, 2017 4:24 PM

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has completed its annual review and revision of Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) for 2012-2016.   The data revisions incorporate updated population controls from the U.S. Census Bureau, revisions from other original data sources, and model re-estimation.

For Arkansas, the revisions were not surprising.   The originally published data showed a sharp increase in household employment over the first three months of 2016 — a reading about which we were very skeptical from the outset.   After revision, the unprecedented surge in employment and labor force was eliminated completely.  The new data show more robust growth in employment over most of 2015 and a much smaller upswing/downswing during 2016.  The new data also show that the number of unemployed was lower than previously reported for much of 2015, with a smaller decline in the number of unemployed during the first part of 2016.

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 revisions, Arkansas’ unemployment rate now shows a more rapid decline during 2015, followed by a more stable rate during 2016.  The original data had indicated that the Arkansas unemployment rate declined to as low as 3.8% in May 2016, drifting back up to 4.0% toward the end of the year.  After revision, the unemployment rate changed little over the year, starting at 4.1% then dropping to 4.0% for most of the rest of the year.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Today’s data revisions also included the official annual averages for unemployment.  The report noted at least three distinctions for Arkansas:

1.  From 2015 to 2016 (annual averages), the Arkansas unemployment rate declined 1.1%, from 5.1% to 4.0%.  Massachusetts and South Carolina were the only states to show a larger decline (-1.2%).

2.  For the year, Arkansas unemployment rate of 4.0% can be considered statistically significantly lower than the U.S. average of 4.9%.

3.  Arkansas was one of only 14 states to show a statistically significant increase in the employment-population ratio (up 0.7 percentage points, from 55.1% to 55.8%)

 

Print Friendly

Arkansas GDP – 2016:Q3

By , February 2, 2017 3:35 PM

The Bureau of Economic Analysis announced this morning that Arkansas real GDP grew at a 2.3% annual rate in the third quarter of 2016.  While this growth rate is roughly in line with prevailing trends, Arkansas’ growth lagged behind the nationwide rate of 3.5%, ranking #41 among the 50 states.

GDP-map-2016Q3

Over the past four quarters, Arkansas’ growth rate has averaged 2.1%, compared to 1.6% for the entire U.S.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis

Source: U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis

As shown in the table below, the patterns of growth rates across sectors are quite similar for Arkansas and the U.S.  Growth was relatively strong in Utilities, Finance and Insurance, and Administrative services.  Another sector to show encouraging growth was Durable Goods Manufacturing.  Arkansas’ agricultural output contracted in the third quarter; however, agricultural output shows substantial volatility from quarter to quarter.  Output in the mining sector was down across the board, reflecting continued weakness in oil and gas prices.

Source:  U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis

Source: U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis

Print Friendly

Arkansas Employment and Unemployment – December 2016

By , January 24, 2017 12:46 PM

As reported last Friday by the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, Arkansas’ unemployment rate declined one-tenth of a percentage point to 3.9% in December.  This morning, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released additional details.  From the household survey data, the number of unemployed Arkansans declined by 1,345.  However, the number of employed declined by 5,357, the 7th consecutive monthly decline in employment.  It was also the 7th consecutive decline in the size of the active labor force (-6,702).

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 1,700 in December (seasonally adjusted).  Sectors showing monthly increases included Leisure and Hospitality services (+1,200), Wholesale Trade (+1,100) and Education and Health Services (+1,200).  Both Construction and Manufacturing showed losses for the month, and remain below the levels of December 2015.

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

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

Overall, the current data indicate that payroll employment rose 5,200 from December 2015 through December 2016, a gain of only 0.4%.  The 2016 year-over-year gain compares to an increase of 27,100 (2.3%) in 2015.  However, these totals will be revised in the next report from the BLS, scheduled to be released on March 13th.

Using available data from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW), we anticipate that the payroll employment totals will be revised downward for the period from September 2015 forward.  These estimates suggest that the employment increase in 2015 will be revised downward to show a gain of only 16,000 jobs (1.3%), while the change from December 2015 through December 2016 will end up indicating an increase of 6,800 jobs (0.6%).

Sources:  Bureau of Labor Statistics, Institute for Economic Advancement

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Institute for Economic Advancement

# # #

*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.

Print Friendly

Arkansas Home Sales – November 2016

By , January 18, 2017 4:19 PM

The Arkansas Realtors® Association announced this morning that home sales in November 2016 were up 24.4% compared to November 2015.  As shown in the figure below, home sales typically slow during the final three months of the year, with November often showing a sharp drop-off compared to October.  In 2016, the October-November decline was only 5.9%, compared to an average of over 20% in the previous three years.

Source:  Arkansas Realtors® Association

Source: Arkansas Realtors® Association

After seasonal adjustment, the November sales total represented one of the strongest months of the year:  The seasonally-adjusted monthly total of 2890 homes translated to an annual sales pace of nearly 35,000.  More importantly, the November statistic is in line with an ongoing growth trend that has prevailed for nearly four years now.  With only one month left to be reported in the calendar year, the year-to-date figures show an increase of 9.9% compared to the same period in 2015.

Source:  Arkansas Realtors® Association; Seasonally adjusted by the Institute for Economic Advancement

Source: Arkansas Realtors® Association; Seasonally adjusted by the Institute for Economic Advancement

Print Friendly

Arkansas Employment and Unemployment – November 2016

By , December 16, 2016 12:19 PM

Arkansas unemployment rate remained unchanged at 4.0% in November.  The nationwide unemployment rate fell by 0.3 percentage points to 4.6%, narrowing the gap between the U.S. and Arkansas unemployment rates.  Nevertheless, the news release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics noted that Arkansas remains one of 16 states where the unemployment rate is significantly lower (in a statistical sense) than the national average.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

For the sixth consecutive month, the labor force data show a decline in the number of employed Arkansans (-3,929), reinforcing the evidence from the payroll survey that employment growth has slowed during the year (see below).   On the other hand, the number of unemployed was also down in November (-1,130), following a revised decline (-277) in the previous month.  As a result of the lower numbers for both employment and unemployment, the labor force was down sharply in November (-5,059).

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

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

Payroll Data
Nonfarm payroll employment declined by 2,000 in November (seasonally adjusted).  The sector experiencing the largest decline was Retail Trade, down 3,400 from the previous month and down 2,400 from November of 2015.  Seasonal factors are likely at play here:  With internet sales comprising a larger proportion of holiday shopping, the seasonal increase in retail hiring has been slower than in previous years, resulting in a seasonally-adjusted decline and a year-over-year decline.

Professional and Business Services continues to be the strongest performing sector, both nationally and here in Arkansas.  Meanwhile, employment in the Education and Health Services sectors has recently shown signs of slowing.  Over time, these two service-providing sectors (Professional and Business, Education and Health) continue to be the engines of growth in the state’s employment.  Each has contributed 5,800 new jobs over the past 12 months, with all other sectors collectively showing a net decline of 2,800 jobs.

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

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

Projected Data Revisions
The BLS recently released second quarter data from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, which provides a more accurate assessment of payroll employment than the Current Employment Statistics.  Based on this new information, our projection for upcoming revisions of Arkansas payroll employment data has been revised further downward.  As of today’s report, we now expect the downward revision to total about 9,500 jobs.  The data revisions primarily affect the first half of 2016, so after expected revisions we now expect that the November 2015 to November 2016 change in employment will total only 5,800 after revision, compared to 8,800 in the currently reported statistics.  (The revised data will not be officially available until March 2017).

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics (CES, QCEW) and calculations by the Institute for Economic Advancement

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics (CES, QCEW) and calculations by the Institute for Economic Advancement

# # #

*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.

Print Friendly

Arkansas Employment and Unemployment – October 2016

By , November 18, 2016 1:50 PM

Arkansas’ unemployment rate remained unchanged at 4.0% in October.   The underlying data from the household survey shows that the number of employed Arkansans declined for the 5th consecutive month, falling by 1,805.  The number of unemployed fell slightly (-368) after rising in the previous four months.

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

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

Payroll Employment
Arkansas nonfarm payroll employment increased by 300 in October (seasonally adjusted).  An increase of 1,700 jobs in Construction employment accounted for a net increase in goods-producing sectors.  Despite a strong increase in Professional and Business Services (+1,700), service-providing sectors contracted from September to Octobers, led by declines in Leisure and Hospitality (-700), Wholesale Trade (-500) and Retail Trade (-1,600).  The concentration of job losses in consumer-related sectors suggests that firms are not scaling up holiday employment as much as in previous years.

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

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

As presented during our Arkansas Economic Forecast Presentation, information from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages suggests that the nonfarm payroll data will ultimately be revised downward for the period from 2014:Q2 through 2015:Q1.  Final revisions will not be completed until March 2017 and will include additional data from 2015.   Currently, the total magnitude of the revision is estimated to be approximately 4,800 jobs (about 0.4%), with the revisions concentrated in the second half of 2015.

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Institute for Economic Advancement

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Institute for Economic Advancement

The table below breaks down the expected revisions by sector.  Employment in goods producing sectors is expected to be revised upward, while service-sector job growth will generally be revised lower (with the exception of Financial Services).  Overall job growth for the period December 2014 through October 2016 is presently estimated to be 31,200 (2.6%), but our projections of future data revisions indicate that growth rate for that period will total 26,400 jobs (2.2%).

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Institute for Economic Advancement

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Institute for Economic Advancement

Print Friendly

Arkansas Economic Forecast Presentation

By , November 16, 2016 2:06 PM

Little Rock Regional Economic Briefing

Thank you to all who attended this morning’s Regional Economic Briefing, where I presented my annual forecast for the Arkansas economy.  Special thanks to the Little Rock Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis for co-sponsoring the event.

Below are links to the presentations:

Kevin Kliesen:  National Economic Conditions

Charles Gascon:   Startups, STEM Jobs and the Tech Sector

Michael Pakko:  The Arkansas Economic Outlook

Print Friendly

Panorama Theme by Themocracy

AWSOM Powered