Arkansas Economic Development Institute

Metro Area Unemployment & Employment – November 2014

By , December 31, 2014 8:00 AM

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released new data on metro area unemployment and employment yesterday.  The report noted that unemployment rates in November were down compared to the previous year in 341 of the 372 metropolitan areas in the nation.  The eight metro areas that contain portions of Arkansas were all included in that total.  Not-seasonally adjusted unemployment rates declined by more than a full percentage in each of the state’s metro areas over the past 12 months, with the largest decline being a 2.7 percent drop in Pine Bluff.

In the recent statewide unemployment report, Arkansas’ unemployment rate dropped by three-tenths of a percent in November (seasonally adjusted).  Comparable figures for the state’s metro areas do not uniformly reflect this dramatic decline.  From October to November, data from the Smoothed Seasonally Adjusted Metropolitan Area Estimates show declines of only one-tenth in Fort Smith, Hot Springs, Jonesboro and Memphis.  Texarkana was down two-tenths and Pine Bluff was down three-tenths.  Unemployment rates in Fayetteville and Little Rock were unchanged.  Although the magnitude of unemployment rate declines were smaller for most metro areas than the statewide average, the underlying components were all generally encouraging.  The number of unemployed was down in all eight metro areas, and the number of employed was higher in all except Memphis.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Payroll Employment
Nonfarm payroll employment increased by 0.5% statewide in November, but the gains were not reflected evenly across the state’s metro areas.  In a fact, payroll employment was down in both Hot Springs, Memphis and Pine Bluff.  Employment in Texarkana was unchanged and Little Rock saw only a slight increase.  Compared to a year ago, employment has declined in Fort Smith and Pine Bluff, but has increased in the state’s other metro areas.  Only Jonesboro has surpassed the nationwide growth rate of 2.0%.  In fact, at 2.9%, Jonesboro is the only metro area in the state to be growing faster than the statewide average of 1.5%.  Compared to pre-recession levels of seven years go, employment has increased in Fayetteville and Jonesboro, but is still lagging behind in most other metro areas.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Arkansas Employment and Unemployment – November 2014

By , December 19, 2014 11:55 AM

The latest monthly report on state employment and unemployment adds to recent evidence of a dramatic improvement in labor market conditions in Arkansas.   The headline statistic showed that the unemployment rate dropped 3-tenths of a percent from 6.1% in October (revised) to 5.8% in November.  With that decline, the unemployment rate in Arkansas is now equal to the national unemployment rate.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

The underlying details of household employment all pointed to improving conditions:  The number of unemployed Arkansans declined by nearly 2,200, following a decline of 1,900 in October.  The number of employed increased by 10,300 — the largest monthly increase on record (breaking the record increase of 9,400 for October).   As a result, the labor force has expanded dramatically over the past two months, erasing a large portion of the decline from earlier in the year.  In fact, this is the third consecutive month of strong gains in household employment and labor force participation.

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

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

Payroll Employment
The survey of employers also showed strong job growth in November.  Overall nonfarm payroll employment increased by 7,600 (seasonally adjusted).  As shown in the table below, increases were present in nearly all sectors of the economy (with the exception of Information Services, a relatively small sector).  Gains were particularly prominent in good-producing sectors:  Manufacturing employment was up 1,300 and Construction employment gained 1,400.  Gains in seasonally-adjusted Wholesale and Retail trade indicate that seasonal hiring for the holiday season are larger that would typically be expected.

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

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

Since the employment low-point of February 2010, total employment has increased by over 51,000 and now stands at only 5,700 less than pre-recession levels.  As noted previously, the annual benchmark revisions that will be released next year are likely to show a downward adjustment to the data.  After the expected revision, cumulative employment gains since February 2010 are expected to be approximately 41,800, still 15,200 below the pre-recession level.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

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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, can be found hereTable-Seasonally Adjusted NFPE.

 

Metro Area Employment and Unemployment – October 2014

By , December 9, 2014 4:25 PM

Unemployment rates declined in all of Arkansas’ metro areas in October.  On a year-over-year basis, the not-seasonally adjusted numbers showed declines ranging from 1.5% in Fayetteville to 2.9% in Pine Bluff.  The eight metro areas that include parts of Arkansas were among the 354 out of a total of 372 that saw declines from the previous year.  Smoothed seasonally adjusted estimates showed monthly declines in all eight metro areas as well.  Unemployment declined by 0.3% from September to October in Pine Bluff, and 0.2% in Fort Smith and Memphis.  Rates were down by 0.1% in the remaining metro areas.  Moreover, household employment and labor force figures showed monthly increases in all of Arkansas metro areas except Memphis.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Payroll employment reports were more mixed.  Total nonfarm payrolls were down slightly in Fayetteville, Fort Smith and Texarkana, but were higher in Hot Springs, Jonesboro, Memphis and Pine Bluff.  Employment in Little Rock was unchanged.  The increase in Pine Bluff was particularly notable:  up 1.7% for the month.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

There are still only two metro areas in the state that have seen net employment gains compared to pre-recession levels (December 2007):  Fayetteville and Jonesboro.  The unchanged employment figure for Little Rock left the total unchanged since the pre-recession peak.  Three of the state’s metro areas have actually seen continued employment declines since the trough of February 2010:  Fort Smith, Pine Bluff, and Texarkana.

Arkansas Taxable Sales – 2014:Q3

By , December 8, 2014 3:41 PM

A proxy for state retail spending, Arkansas Taxable Sales (ATS), increased by 0.2% in the third quarter of 2013 (seasonally adjusted).  Compared to the previous year, ATS was up 1.0%.  Arkansas Taxable Sales Including Gasoline (ATSIG) also rose by 0.2% for the quarter and was up 0.9% compared the third quarter of 2013.  The slightly slower year-over-year growth rate for ATSIG reflects the effect of lower gasoline prices on total household spending.  Since the trough of the recession, ATS has increased by 15.8% — an average annual percentage rate of 2.8%.  Meanwhile, ATSIG increased by 18.0% — or 3.2% annually.

Sources: Department of Finance and Administration, Oil Price Information Service, Institute for Economic Advancement

Sources: Department of Finance and Administration, Oil Price Information Service, Institute for Economic Advancement

Sources: Department of Finance and Administration, Oil Price Information Service, Institute for Economic Advancement

Sources: Department of Finance and Administration, Oil Price Information Service, Institute for Economic Advancement

Over the past four quarters, the price index for personal consumption expenditures has increased by about 1.5%.  Accordingly, the 1.0% (0.9%) rate of increase in ATS (ATSIG) translates to negative growth after adjusting for inflation.   As shown in the figure below, real inflation-adjusted growth in ATS and ATSIG has been considerably slower than their actual dollar amounts.  Both measures remain below their pre-recession levels, having increased by a total of 5.8% (ATS) and 7.8% (ATSIG) since the trough of the recession.

Sources: Department of Finance and Administration, Oil Price Information Service, Institute for Economic Advancement, U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis

Sources: Department of Finance and Administration, Oil Price Information Service, Institute for Economic Advancement, U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis

 # # #

Arkansas Taxable Sales (ATS) is calculated by the Institute for Economic Advancement to serve as a timely proxy for Arkansas retail sales. The series is derived from sales and use tax data, adjusting for the relative timing of tax collections and underlying sales, changes in tax laws, and seasonal patterns in the data.  Arkansas Taxable Sales Including Gasoline (ATSIG) incorporates data on the state motor fuel tax and gasoline prices from the Oil Price Information Service.

A spreadsheet of the data is available here: Arkansas Taxable Sales 2014:Q3 (Excel file).

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