Arkansas Economic Development Institute

County Per Capita Income – 2010

By , April 25, 2012 12:31 PM

New estimates of local area personal income for 2010 were released today by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.  The data contain a wealth of information about aggregate income and its sources for every county in the United States.  But perhaps the best measure for comparing economic well-being in different areas is per capita income.  Previously released data showed that per capita income growth was 2.8% for the U.S. in 2010, and 2.3% for Arkansas.  The new data show that 41 of Arkansas’ 75 counties exceeded the national growth rate.   A total of 58 counties had growth rates that exceeded the rate of CPI inflation for 2010 (1.64%), implying real income growth.

County growth rates ranged from a low of -1.1% in Perry county to a high of 9.7% in Jackson county.  The distribution of growth rates by county is illustrated in the map below (and detailed in a table at the end of this article).  Northwest Arkansas has long been an area of rapid income growth, but a more remarkable observation about the 2010 data is the strong growth rates exhibited in the Delta region:  The counties of Arkansas, Asheley, Chicot, Drew, Jackson, Lee, Lincoln, Monroe, Phillips and Woodruff all had per capita income growth rates exceeding 4%.

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

A long-sought objective for economic development in Akansas has been to raise per capita personal income to a level equal to the national average.  Because the Arkansas growth rate was slightly lower than the U.S. average, the ratio of statewide per capita income to U.S. per capita income declined a bit in 2010, from 83% to 82%.  The two highest-income counties in the state, Pulaski and Union, remained above the national average but showed small relative declines.  The most rapidly growing county, Jackson County, showed an increase from 76% of average U.S. income in 2009 to 81% in 2010.

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

 

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

Metro Area Employment – 2012:Q1

By , April 24, 2012 4:44 PM

Last week’s employment report for Arkansas showed a surprising decline in statewide payroll employment.  After two months of growth totalling 6,700 jobs (+0.6%), nonfarm payrolls declined by 1,900 (-0.2%) in March (seasonally adjusted).  Data for the state’s metropolitan areas shows that only Fayetteville and Jonesboro showed positive growth for the month.  Employment was unchanged in Hot Springs and Pine Bluff.  Declines were registered in Memphis, Little Rock, Texarkana and Fort Smith.  Compared to the previous year, employment is up in most of Arkansas’ MSAs — the exceptions being Little Rock (-0.3%) and Fort Smith (-6.3%).  Compared to the start of the recession in December 2007, both Jonesboro and Texarkana are now in positive territory, with Fayetteville close to the break-even point.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

As shown in the chart below, employment patterns among Arkansas metro areas have shown some dinstinct individual patterns.  All of the state’s MSAs showed sharp declines during the depth of the recession in late-2008 through 2009.  Signs of recovery were generally evident in early 2010, but employment growth rates have diverged considerably since then.  Many parts of the state showed weak or negative employment growth during 2011.  Jonesboro and Texarkana continued to experience positive growth — albeit at slower rates.  Hot Springs saw a surge in job growth during 2011, but the increase appears to have been temporary.  Other areas of the state continue to recover slowly.  The clear exception to the pattern of slow, uneven recovery is Fort Smith:  After suffering an 8% decline in employment in 2008 and 2009, recovery in early 2010 was only partial and temporary.  More recent job losses in the Fort Smith MSA have continued to mount.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Arkansas Employment and Unemployment – March 2012

By , April 20, 2012 1:36 PM

The unemployment rate in Arkansas fell to 7.4% in March – down 2-tenths of a percent from the previous month.   The new data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services (DWS) showed that the favorable trends that emerged in the household survey late last year are continuing:  The number of unemployed Arkansans fell by 1,900 in March and the number of employed was up by 5,500.  Hence, the unemployment rate declined while the labor force expanded.  March represents the eighth consecutive month in which we’ve seen these trends.  Since July 2011, the number of unemployed is down by approximately 8,000 and the number of employed is up by more than 32,000.

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

Payroll Employment
The separate payroll survey was not as unambiguously positive.  Seasonally adjusted, total nonfarm payroll employment fell slightly in March — down by 1,900 jobs.  The seasonally adjusted data might be distorted this year by the warm winter and early spring.  Construction employment, for example, was up sharply in January and February, but declined by 2,100 in March.  This pattern might simply reflect an unusually early start to the construction season.

In addition to construction, sectoral declines in the payroll employment data were prominent for Professional & Business Services (-1,700) and Government (-900).  On the other hand, employment in the Leisure & Hospitality sector was up by 2,000 in March, and Education & Health Services saw a gain of 1,000.  Those two super-sectors, along with Mining & Logging and Government, are registering more jobs now than at the start of the recession in December 2007.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (Current Employment Statistics)

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

 

Metro Area Unemployment

By , April 10, 2012 4:02 PM

The smoothed seasonally-adjusted unemployment rates for metro areas have been updated.  The data for February show monthly declines in Fayetteville, Memphis, Pine Bluff, and Texarkana.  The rate was unchanged for Fort Smith and Little Rock, and moved higher in Hot Springs and Jonesboro.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Although changes in unemployment rates were mixed for the month, rates are down sharply from their peak levels of September/October 2011.  The declines have been particularly steep in Fayetteville, Memphis, Pine Bluff and Texarkana.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Metro Area Employment – February 2012

By , April 10, 2012 11:14 AM

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported this morning that payroll employment in February had increased from the previous year in most of the nation’s metro areas:  “267 metropolitan areas reported over-the-year increases in nonfarm payroll employment, 98 reported decreases, and 7 had no change.”  Here in Arkansas, metro employment was up in only four metro areas (Fayetteville, Little Rock, Memphis, and Texarkana) and it was lower in the other four (Fort Smith, Hot Springs, Jonesboro, and Pine Bluff).

Seasonally adjusted data show that from January to February, employment declined in most of Arkansas’ metro areas.  Hot Springs, in particular, showed a substantial monthly decline.  In contrast, employment was up sharply in Texarkana and also rose in Fayetteville and Memphis.  Since the national and statewide employment trough of February 2010, employment growth rates around the state have diverged remarkably.  Texarkana, Fayetteville, and Memphis have all out-performed the statewide average.  In Hot Springs, rapid employment growth during 2011 has reversed, and is now lower than its level in February 2010.  In Pine Bluff and Fort Smith, employment has continued to decline.  In fact, employment in Fort Smith is now 12.8% lower than at the start of the recession in December 2007.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

The BLS report also noted that unemployment rates in February were down from the previous year in 344 of the nation’s 372 metro areas.  Four of the eight metro areas in Arkansas were included on this list.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

The smoothed seasonally-adjusted unemployment rates for Arkansas MSAs will be available later today.

Mass Layoffs in Arkansas

By , April 3, 2012 11:24 AM

Today’s Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports on mass layoff events in Arkansas during 2011.  The data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that there were 154 mass layoff actions in Arkansas during 2011, resulting the separation of 16,665 workers (as measured by new filings for unemployment insurance benefits).  This was a record high for Arkansas, yet the data show a net increase in employment overall.  Although mass layoff events generate news headlines, they constitute a relatively small component of dynamic labor market flows.

To put the Arkansas total in context, the following table compares total separations associated with mass layoffs with the size of each state’s labor force.  This calculation allows us to compare the relative importance of mass layoffs among the states, accounting for differences in their sizes.  The comparison shows that total mass-layoff separations in Arkansas amounted to 1.22% of the state’s labor force.  The shares ranged from 0.12% in South Dakota to 2.40% in Wisconsin.  Arkansas ranked number 17 among the 50 states plus D.C.

Mass Layoffs

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

More generally, mass layoff events are only one component of gross job flows.  To get a sense of their overall importance, consider the following comparisons for the U.S. in 2011:  Separations associated with mass layoffs nationwide amounted to 1,808,451.  According to the BLS’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS), total layoffs and discharges were 20.7 million.  Hence, mass layoffs accounted for only 8.8% of total layoffs and discharges.  In turn, layoffs and discharges accounted for less than half of the total 48.2 million job separations in 2011.  Meanwhile, new hires totalled 50.1 million.  The gross separations and hiring numbers were more than 25 times as large as the net change in employment — and the net increase in employment (as measured by the JOLTS data) was larger than the total number of mass-layoff separations.  When we hear about monthly or yearly changes in employment, the reported net figures represent only a tiny fraction of total labor market activity.  Similarly, mass layoffs represent a very small share of total employment flows.

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