Arkansas Employment and Unemployment – March 2013

By , April 19, 2013 12:00 PM

The unemployment rate in Arkansas was unchanged at 7.2% in March.  The household survey suggests that the number of unemployed has stabilized at approximately 96,000, but ongoing decline in household employment continued for a 13th consecutive month.  Since February 2012 household employment has dropped by approximately 32,600 and the corresponding measure of the state’s labor force has dropped by 37,700.  If this entire decline in employment was classified as an increase in unemployment (instead of as a reduction in the labor force), the state’s unemployment rate would now stand at 9.7%.

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

Payroll Employment
The payroll survey continued to show greater strength than the household report.  Total nonfarm payroll employment was up by 2,400 in March (seasonally adjusted), following a revised increase of 3,000 in February.  As shown in the table below, job losses were particularly notable in Leisure and Hospitality Services and Manufacturing.  Without seasonal adjustment, employment in Leisure and Hospitality was up slightly (700 jobs), but that increase is far smaller than would typically be expected in March.  Sectors with notable increases in employment included Construction and Business & Professional Services.

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

The two measures of state employment — the household survey and the payroll survey — continue to provide conflicting signals.  The household measure of employment has now declined to a new post-recession low, while the payroll survey has shown positive growth (albeit slow and uneven) since February 2010.  Except for the most recent observations (which are still subject to future revision) the payroll figures are based on a very inclusive and comprehensive set of data.  This suggests that the anomalous reading are coming from the household survey.  However, we cannot rule out the possibility that the household survey is documenting significant weakness in Arkansas labor-market trends that have yet to be fully reflected in the payroll data.  Stay tuned.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (LAUS & 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, are available hereTable – Seasonally Adjusted NFPE.


Metro Area Unemployment and Employment – February 2013

By , April 10, 2013 12:19 PM

Unemployment rates in Arkansas’ metro areas generally remain lower than a year ago, but smoothed seasonally adjusted estimates show recent increases in some areas of the state.

The not-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate data showed that February-to-February changes in unemployment rates ranged from -0.9% in Fort Smith to +0.1% in Memphis (Memphis is the only metro area that showed a year-over-year increase).   According to the news release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment rates were lower in February than a year earlier in 287 of the nation’s 372 metro areas and higher in only 69 areas.

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

In the most recent report on employment and unemployment for the state, we noted that the Arkansas labor force has been declining precipitously over the past year.  From February 2012 through February 2013, the state’s labor force declined by 2.8% (using not-seasonally adjusted data).  As shown in the table below, not all of Arkansas’ metro areas have experienced comparable declines.  Over the past 12 months, Fort Smith and Jonesboro have both seen increases in the size of their labor forces, while Fayetteville’s labor force is down only slightly.  The state’s largest declines are in Pine Bluff and Texarkana, with Hot Springs and Little Rock also showing contractions that are proportionally larger than the statewide total.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics

Monthly changes in the Smoothed Seasonally Adjusted Estimates of metro area unemployment rates were mixed:  Rates were lower in Fayetteville and Fort Smith; unchanged in Hot Springs and Jonesboro; and were higher in Little Rock, Memphis, Pine Bluff and Texarkana.

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

The February changes in unemployment rates contributed to some recent divergence among the state’s metro areas.  For example, the unemployment rate in Fort Smith has now fallen by 0.6% since last October, while the rate in Pine Bluff has risen by 0.4% since September.

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

Payroll Employment
Data on nonfarm payroll employment showed month-to-month declines in Hot Springs (-1.0%) and Texarkana (-0.5%), but increases in the state’s other metro areas.  Compared to a year earlier, employment is higher in most metro areas, but down in Pine Bluff and Texarkana.  Pine Bluff is the only metro area that has experienced ongoing job losses since the employment trough of February 2010.  Two metro areas — Fayetteville and Jonesboro — have higher levels of employment now than before the onset of the 2008-09 recession.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics



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