Category: Seasonal adjustment

Metro Area Employment & Unemployment – January 2016

By , March 18, 2016 5:04 PM

New data on employment and unemployment in metropolitan areas were released this morning by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  The BLS report noted that unemployment rates were “lower in January than a year earlier in 333 of the 387 metropolitan areas.”  All of the metro areas covering parts of Arkansas fell into this category.  As shown in the table below, metro unemployment rates have declined dramatically over the past 12 months, with changes ranging from -1.1 percentage points in Fort Smith to -2.3 percentage points in Pine Bluff.  Significant differences in unemployment rates around the state remain:  The unemployment rate in Northwest Arkansas stood at 3.3% in January (not seasonally adjusted) while the rate for Pine bluff was 6.4%.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Data from the household survey–including unemployment rates–were revised since the release of the December data.  However, the revised estimates have not yet been loaded into the BLS time series database, nor have revised seasonally adjusted estimates yet been reported.  Consequently, further detailed examination of the paths of unemployment in Arkansas metro areas will await the availability of the revised data, scheduled to be available on April 15th.

Payroll Employment
Nonfarm payroll employment dropped statewide in January, with the decline reflected in the metropolitan area data for Fayetteville, Hot Springs, Memphis and Pine Bluff.  Jonesboro and Texarkana saw employment gains for the month, while Little Rock and Fort Smith were essentially unchanged.  Compared to a year ago, employment was up in most areas of the state, with the exception of a small decline registered for Pine Bluff (which is also the only metro area in the state with net employment losses since the employment trough of February 2010).  After revisions (see below), only three metro areas presently display higher levels of employment than before the 2008-09 recession.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The payroll data have been revised as part of the annual benchmark processing to reflect 2015 employment counts from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages.  Not seasonally adjusted figures were revised back to April 2014, and seasonally adjusted numbers were revised back to January 2011.  As summarized in the table below, and illustrated with the subsequent panel of charts, the revisions were in some cases quite substantial.

The revisions were generally positive, with the notable exceptions of Jonesboro and Hot Springs.  Previously reported data had shown Jonesboro to be the fastest-growing metro area in the state, expanding by 7.5% during 2014 and 2015.  That growth rate was marked down by nearly two percentage points.  Meanwhile a sharp upward revision to the data for Northwest Arkansas put the Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers metro area into the top growth rate position (11.1%).  The other downward revision affected Hot Springs:  A 2.3% downward revision to the estimated level of employment in Hot Springs lowered reported growth from 3.7% to 1.6% for the 2014-15 period.

Source:   Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

The largest positive revision was reflected in a 6.3% increase in estimated employment in Pine Bluff.  Previously reported data had indicated a 6.8% contraction in employment — primarily over the first half of 2015.  The revised data suggest that employment in Pine Bluff has stabilized over the past two years.

A similar, albeit smaller, positive revision for Fort Smith changed estimated employment growth from negative to positive.  Previously published data for Texarkana* had indicated sluggish growth but the new data indicate a robust pace of employment expansion.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

# # #

Note:  Seasonally adjusted payroll employment data for Texarkana remain temporarily unavailable from the BLS.  The data in this report were seasonally adjusted in-house at the Institute for Economic Advancement.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Arkansas Employment and Unemployment – September 2015

By , October 20, 2015 11:32 AM

The state employment report that came out this morning contained mixed signals.  The good news was that the unemployment rate dropped by two-tenths of a percent to 5.2%.  The national unemployment rate remained steady at 5.1%, so the gap between Arkansas and the U.S. rates narrowed.  Earlier in the year, Arkansas’ unemployment rate had crept upward, reaching a peak of 5.8% in May.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

While the number of unemployed was down by over 2,500, the household data showed that number of employed was up only by about 1,000.  Consequently, the Arkansas labor force contracted for the second time in 3 months.

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

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

Payroll Data
The not-seasonally adjusted payroll data for September showed an increase of 12,300 jobs.  However, the gains were almost entirely seasonal.  Back-to-school effects boosted state and local government employment (public schools) and private sector employment in education.  Leisure and Hospitality and Retail Trade also showed seasonal declines.  After seasonal adjustment (shown in the table below), the data showed a slight decline in employment for the month (-700 jobs).    A relatively bright spot in the report was employment in the construction sector.  Up by 900 jobs for the month, construction activity has added 7,400 jobs over the past year.

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.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Metro Area Employment and Unemployment – August 2015

By , October 1, 2015 4:31 PM

The latest report on metropolitan area unemployment rates came out yesterday, showing unemployment rates down in all of Arkansas’ metro areas.  The not-seasonally adjusted data showed that on a year-over-year basis, unemployment rates were down by amounts ranging from 0.5% in Fort Smith to 1.6% in Memphis.  The report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics cited a figure that 365 of the 387 metropolitan areas across the country experienced unemployment rate declines since August 2014.

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

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

As is typically the case, the change in unemployment rates from July to August is complicated by seasonal factors.  Not seasonally adjusted data indicate sharp declines of more than half a percentage point in all eight metro areas; however, that is typical of July-to-August changes.   Yet even after seasonal adjustment, rates were down around the state.  Three metro areas matched the 0.2% decline previously reported for the statewide unemployment rate (Fayetteville, Jonesboro and Texarkana).  Fort Smith and Pine Bluff saw declines of 0.1%, while Little Rock and Memphis saw even larger drops.

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

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

Payroll Employment
Changes in nonfarm payroll employment were mixed.   Employment was down by 0.5% in Jonesboro and Memphis, and down by 0.2% in Texarkana*.   Employment in Pine Bluff was unchanged, and was up in the remaining metro areas.  Gains were particularly large in Little Rock (+0.7%) and Hot Springs (+0.8%).  Employment is now higher than pre-recession levels in four of the eight metro areas (Jonesboro, Fayetteville, Little Rock and Hot Springs).

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

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

# # #

*Note:  Payroll data for Texarkana (which now include Little River County) are not presently being published by the BLS on a seasonally adjusted basis.  Payroll employment figures for Texarkana refer to data that have been seasonally adjusted by the Institute for Economic Advancement.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Metro Area Employment and Unemployment – July 2015

By , September 1, 2015 12:10 PM

New data on unemployment rates in Arkansas metro areas show continuing downward trends.  From July 2014 through July 2015, the state’s unemployment rate declined by 0.8%, with metro area changes ranging from -0.4% (Fort Smith) to -1.2% (Memphis and Texarkana).

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

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

Seasonally adjusted data indicate month-to-month declines in unemployment in 5 metro areas, with rates unchanged in Hot Springs and Texarkana.  The unemployment rate in Memphis ticked up by one-tenth of a percentage point.

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

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

As shown in the figure below, unemployment rates rose slightly in the early months of the year, peaking in April or May.  With the exception of Memphis, rates have resumed their decline over the past two to three months.  The seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate for Fayetteville fell below 4.0% for the first time since April 2008.  At the other extreme, unemployment in Pine Bluff has yet to fall below 7.5%.

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

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

Payroll Employment
Data on nonfarm payroll employment (seasonally adjusted) show mixed changes on a month-to-month basis.  Metro areas showing employment losses in July included Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Hot Springs, Memphis, and Pine Bluff.  Increases were recorded for Jonesboro, Little Rock, and Texarkana.  Compared to a year ago, employment is up for six of eight metro areas covering parts of Arkansas, with only Fort Smith and Pine Bluff registering year-over-year declines.  The news release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics noted that Pine Bluff had the largest year-over-year percentage decline in the nation.  A rather sharp monthly drop in Hot Springs dropped the employment total for that metro area back below pre-recession levels, after having briefly moved into positive territory in June.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Arkansas Home Sales – May 2015

By , July 14, 2015 12:15 PM

New data from the Arkansas Realtors® Association indicates that May was a very strong month for home sales, up 11.5% compared to May 2014.  Total sales for the month were 2,579, the highest single-month of sales since the summer of 2007.  Home sales are typically highest in the summer months (June-July-August), so the May figures suggest a 2015 housing market that is continuing to improve dramatically, with strong momentum going into the summer months.

Source:  Arkansas Realtors® Association

Source: Arkansas Realtors® Association

After removing the typical seasonal variation in home sales, the following chart shows an extended uptrend in sales that has prevailed over the past 3 years.  Relative to the trend, May is clearly a strong month.  However, it follows some weakness over the recent winter months, which were affected by some unusually harsh weather conditions that might have delayed some transactions.  As is usually the case, the next two or three months will be important for gauging annual sales totals.

Source:  Arkansas Realtors® Association, Seasonal adjustment by the Institute for Economic Advancement

Source: Arkansas Realtors® Association, Seasonal adjustment by the Institute for Economic Advancement

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Metro Area Unemployment and Employment – February 2015

By , April 8, 2015 3:38 PM

New data on metro area employment and unemployment came out this morning.  As we reported last month, the metro area data are being revised significantly, taking into account new methodology and source information, as well as new definitions for many of the metro areas themselves.  Final revisions will not come out until April 21, so the current data remain “provisional.”

The news release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that “unemployment rates were lower in February than a year earlier in 366 of the 387 metropolitan areas.”  All eight of the metro areas that include parts of Arkansas were included in that total.  As shown in the table below, the unemployment rate has fallen by over a full percentage point in every metro area except Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers.  The largest decline has taken place in Pine Bluff — down from 9.6 a year ago to 7.9 in February 2015.

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

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

The calculation of smoothed seasonally-adjusted metro area unemployment rates has been discontinued until after the final data revisions are complete, so we have no official information on seasonally-adjusted rates.  Lacking that information, it is not possible to make meaningful month-to-month comparisons.

Payroll Data
Nonfarm payroll employment was up by 0.4% in Arkansas for the month of February, but the gains were not evenly dispersed across the state.  Four metro areas saw increases, while four saw decreases.  Compared to the previous February, however, seven of the state’s eight metro areas have seen increases in payroll employment, with only Pine Bluff continuing to see a downward drift.  Compared to the national employment trough of February 2010, only Pine Bluff and Texarkana have experienced net decreases.  Three metro areas now have higher levels of employment than before the 2008-09 recession, Fayetteville, Jonesboro, and Little Rock.

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

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

(Note:  With the redefinition of the Texarkana MSA, seasonal adjustment factors have been deemed unreliable for now and no seasonally-adjusted data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  The data for Texarkana in the table above have been seasonally adjusted by the Institute for Economic Advancement.)

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Arkansas Employment and Unemployment – January 2015

By , March 17, 2015 1:28 PM

With the data revisions for 2014 complete, the Bureau of Labor Statistics published the first state-level employment data for 2015.  From the household survey, the unemployment rate ticked down one-tenth of a percent to 5.6%.  As described in a previous post, some of the recent sharp swings in the household employment data were recently muted by data revisions.  But the January data showed an uncharacteristically large surge in employment, similar to those that were showing up in the recent data before revision:  From December to January, the number of employed was up by more than 9,000.   The number of unemployed was essentially unchanged, so the labor force figures also showed a sharp increase.

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

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

At 5.6%, January’s unemployment rate in Arkansas was one-tenth of a percent lower than the national average for January, and one-tenth higher than the national average for February.  Arkansas’ unemployment rate continues to closely track that of the U.S. as a whole.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Payroll Survey
The payroll data are similarly showing generally positive trends.  The not-seasonally adjusted data reported by the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services showed a sharp decline for the month, but that is typical of the change from December to January as the demand for holiday-related workers wanes.  After taking account of typical seasonal fluctuations, the seasonally-adjusted data showed an increase in Arkansas Nonfarm Payroll Employment of 2,000 jobs.  In the goods producing sectors, Manufacturing employment was down 1,800 but Construction employment was up 2,300.  Changes were mixed across service sectors:  Employment in Professional and business services was up for the month; Leisure and Hospitality employment was down slightly.

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

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

Today’s release of Nonfarm Payroll Employment Data incorporated the annual benchmark revisions (more on that below).  In the context of the revised data, the year-over-year growth of Arkansas employment amounts to 26,800.  Gains were widespread, with only slight declines in Mining, Information Services and Government employment.  Since the employment trough of February 2010, the Arkansas economy has recovered 56,400 of the jobs that were lost during the recession.  The composition of employment in Arkansas has changed considerably over the past seven years:  Manufacturing employment has contracted by over 32,000 jobs, while job growth has been concentrated in service sectors.

As of January, total nonfarm payroll employment was 1,000 jobs (0.1%) lower than the pre-recession levels (December 2007).  For the U.S. as a whole, employment surpassed its pre-recession level in April 2014.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Benchmark Revisions
The revisions to payroll employment data were about as expected:  The job growth in the latter part of 2013 that had been previously reported was largely revised away.  However, the new data show stronger growth in the first part of 2014 than the previously-published data.  As a result, revisions to recent statistics were relatively minor.  As of December, the revised data show only 3,100 fewer jobs than the pre-revision statistics.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

The table below summarizes the impact of the revision on various sectors.  Because the data for late 2013 were revised downward far more than the data for end of 2014, year-over-year growth in total employment is considerably stronger in the revised data.  This basically reflects the re-estimation of the timing of job growth:  More of the recent growth is now estimated to have taken place in 2014 instead of earlier.  The revisions to various sectors are mixed.  Levels of employment were revised downward for Construction, Wholesale Trade, Education and Health Services, Leisure and Hospitality Services and Government.  But again, the change in the estimated timing of job growth matters for the growth rates of the sectors.  The revised data generally show slower growth over the past year for goods-producing sectors, as well as for Education and Health Services.  The higher growth rate in total job growth is reflected in most of the other service sectors.

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, PDF & Email

Arkansas Home Sales – 2014

By , February 20, 2015 2:51 PM

The final home sales report for 2014 from the Arkansas Realtors® Association showed December home sales at 2,107, up by 6.8% from December 2013. For the year as a whole, sales were 28,453, up 4.5% from the previous year.  As shown in the figure below, December is typically one of the slower months of the year for home sales so the monthly total contributes less to the annual total than do the summer months.  Nevertheless, the data for December 2014 show a slight uptick from the previous month.

Source:  Arkansas Realtors® Association

Source: Arkansas Realtors® Association

After smoothing out recurring seasonal fluctuations, however, the seasonally-adjusted data in the next figure show that December was actually a bit weaker than the trend that prevailed during 2014.  That is, the uptick in the raw data was smaller than would be expected for a typical December given the previous trend.  Overall though, the one-month downtick in the seasonally-adjusted series is not unusual and does not necessarily indicate any sign of a sustained slowdown.

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

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

In fact, month-to-month fluctuations in the home sales data are common.  The home sales figures are based on closing dates, and there can be considerable variability in the accounting — particularly when weekends fall near the end or beginning of the month.  Moreover, the data are often revised when home sales are entered into the MLS database after the housing report has been issued.  So it is useful to look at the data after smoothing out seasonal fluctuations AND month-to-month variability.  The quarterly figure below makes both adjustments.  When considering the fourth quarter of 2014 as a whole, home sales continued to follow an increasing trend.

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, PDF & Email

Arkansas Employment and Unemployment – December 2014

By , January 27, 2015 12:43 PM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

# # #

*Seasonally adjusted data for Arkansas nonfarm payroll employment, reported in a format compatible with the monthly news release from the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, can be found hereTable-Seasonally Adjusted NFPE.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Arkansas Home Sales

By , January 8, 2015 2:38 PM

This morning, the Arkansas Realtors® Association (ARA) announced that home sales in November were up 10.4% from the previous year.  As shown in the figure below, November is typically one of the slower months of the year for home sales.  At just over 2,000 units, however, sales in November 2014 were the highest for the month since November 2009 — the month in which the first Federal home-buyers’ tax credit expired.  The ARA total  for cumulative sales for the first 11 months of 2014 were 26,330, approximately 4.7% higher than same period a year earlier.

Source:  Arkansas Realtors® Association

Source: Arkansas Realtors® Association

To get a better sense of the trend in home sales, the figure below adjusts the home sales data for recurring seasonal patterns.  After seasonal adjustment, it is clear that the latest monthly home sales report extends a rising trend .  After the expiration of the second home-buyers’ tax credit in April 2010, Arkansas home sales were stagnant at a seasonally-adjusted pace of less than 2,000 homes per month.  Since mid-2012, we have seen steady improvement.  With only one month of the year yet to be reported, it is clear that 2014 will be the strongest year for home sales since before the recession.

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, PDF & Email

Panorama Theme by Themocracy

AWSOM Powered