Institute for Economic Advancement

Metro Area Employment & Unemployment – June 2014

By , July 30, 2014 3:06 PM

New statistics on employment and unemployment in Arkansas’ metro areas shows continuing declines in unemployment rates.  However, concerns about statewide labor force participation are also apparent in the metro area data.   As shown in the table below, not-seasonally adjusted unemployment rates have fallen sharply over the past 12 months.  The declines range from -1.2% in Fayetteville, Little Rock and Texarkana to -1.9% in Pine Bluff.  The most recent monthly changes show slight upticks.  However, the change in unemployment from May to June is subject to predictable seasonal increases.  After adjusting for recurring seasonal effects, the seasonally adjusted data show that the unemployment rate declined in June for every metro area except Memphis.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

In the statewide data for June, we noted that the unemployment rate was declining against a backdrop of a declining labor force — particularly over the past three months.  As shown in the following chart, the declining labor force from March through June is distinctive for most of the state’s metro areas as well.  Over the past three months, we see sharp labor force participation falling in every metro area except Memphis.  In some cases (Little Rock, Fort Smith, and Pine Bluff), the downward trend has been ongoing throughout 2014.  Relative to January 2013, the only metro area that has experienced a net increase in its labor force is Jonesboro.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Payroll Data
Information from the survey of employers shows one-month declines in employment for five of Arkansas’ metro areas.  Compared to a year ago, however, only Fort Smith has seen a decrease.  Although net employment has been increasing since February 2010, the cumulative percentage increase for the state has only been 3.1%, and employment in Fort Smith, Pine Bluff and Texarkana has declined, on net, over that period.  Compared to pre-recession employment levels, only Fayetteville and Jonesboro have moved into positive territory.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Arkansas Employment and Unemployment – June 2014

By , July 18, 2014 10:33 AM

The unemployment rate in Arkansas dropped two-tenths of a percentage point in June, falling to 6.2%.  The change matches a similar decline in the U.S. unemployment rate, which stood at 6.1% in June.  The underlying data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Arkansas Department of Workforce Services showed a 10th consecutive monthly decline in the number of unemployed — down nearly 2,600 to approximately 81,600.  As recently as October of last year, the number of unemployed Arkansans remained above 100,000.  Over the past 12 months, the number of unemployed has fallen by over 19,000.

However, the other component of the unemployment rate, the number of employed, continues to be a source of concern.  The household-survey measure of employment fell by 6,700 in June, bringing the cumulative 3-month decline to nearly 14,500.   As a result of these changes, the labor force fell by 9,300 for the month, and has fallen by more than 24,600 over the past three months.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Recent data demonstrate that a decline in the unemployment rate cannot always be interpreted positively.  If, in fact, the decline in the number of unemployed reflects discouraged workers dropping out of the labor force, then the falling unemployment rate might be a misleading signal.  For example, suppose that the decline in unemployment over the past three months was entirely attributable to the discouraged-worker effect:  If we assumed that those 10,234 Arkansans remain unemployed in a true sense of the word, then the measured unemployment rate in June might be more appropriately calculated as 7.0%.   The sweeping assumption that unemployed workers are giving up on their job searches is surely an exaggeration, and the data are subject to future revision.  But as it stands now, the sharp contraction of the Arkansas labor force that we’ve seen over the past three months is a cause for concern.

Payroll Employment
Data from the survey of employers reinforces concern about weak employment growth.  Nonfarm payrolls were down 3,300 in June (seasonally adjusted).  Payroll employment remains more than 14,000 higher than a year ago, but most of those gains occurred during the latter part of 2013.  Over the first 6 months of this year, employment has increased by only 1,700.

As shown in the table below, employment declines hit every category of service-providing sectors.  The largest declines were in Professional & Business Services and Education & Health Services — two areas that have previously been showing strong growth trends.  The news was more positive in the goods-producing sectors.  Manufacturing employment surged by 1,700, and employment in Construction increased as well.  Despite recent gains, employment in both Manufacturing and Construction remain lower than they were at labor market trough in February 2010, and together those two employment categories account for cumulative job losses of over 41,000 since the start of the 2008-09 recession.

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.

Metro Area Unemployment and Employment – May 2014

By , July 1, 2014 1:26 PM

Unemployment rates in Arkansas’ metro areas continue to trend downward.  For the period from May 2013 through May 2014, not-seasonally adjusted data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show declines ranging from 0.9 percentage points in Fayetteville and Little Rock to 1.7 percentage points in Memphis.  Statewide, the unemployment rate has fallen 1.1 percentage points over the past 12 months.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

On a month-to-month basis, the not seasonally adjusted data indicate that unemployment rates moved higher in May.   However, this is a typical seasonal effect.  Unemployment rates usually rise in the early to mid-summer — in part due to effects related to the end of the school year.   After adjusting for these recurring seasonal patterns, unemployment rates declined in May for all eight of Arkansas’ metro areas.  The Smoothed Seasonally Adjusted Metropolitan Area Estimates show declines of 0.2 percentage points in Jonesboro, Pine Bluff and Texarkana; and declines of 0.1 percentage points in the other five metro areas.  A graph of the smoothed seasonally-adjusted estimates (below) illustrates the downward trend that has prevailed across all of Arkansas’ metro areas since late last summer.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Payroll Employment
In the other half of the metropolitan area report, payroll employment continued to be disappointingly weak across the state.  Total employment was down in six of the eight metro areas, with small increases in Fayetteville and Memphis.  Compared to a year ago, employment is higher in all metro areas except Texarkana — but the gains are relatively small.  Year-over-year employment growth has been positive but less than one percent in Fort Smith, Memphis and Pine Bluff.  Payroll employment is still lower than its pre-recession peak an all metro areas except Fayetteville and Jonesboro.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Panorama Theme by Themocracy

AWSOM Powered