Institute for Economic Advancement

Metro Area Employment and Unemployment – June 2015

By , July 29, 2015 12:53 PM

New data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that unemployment rates in Arkansas metro areas are all down from a year ago, but the pace of decline has slowed.  On a year-over-year basis, the state-wide not-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate has fallen by 0.6%.  In six of the eight metro areas that include parts of Arkansas, rates have fallen by more than that.

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

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

On a month-to-month basis, seasonally-adjusted metropolitan area estimates show the unemployment declining in all eight metro areas in June.  In six of the eight metro areas, the June decline was larger than the 0.1% drop in the statewide data.  Unemployment rates are now at 5% or lower in four of the state’s metro areas.

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

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

As shown in the figure below, the seasonally adjusted estimates rose somewhat in the earlier part of this year, particularly in metro areas with relatively high unemployment rates.  Hence, unemployment rates in those areas are unchanged or up slightly compared to their low points earlier this year.  In the four metro areas with the lowest unemployment rates, however, the trend continues downward.  Where unemployment rates are at or below 5%, we should not expect significant further reductions.

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

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

Payroll Employment
Nonfarm payroll employment rose in June for six of the eight metro areas, but was down in Fort Smith and Pine Bluff.  Those two metro areas are also the only two that have experienced declines over the past 12 months as well.  According to the report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Pine Bluff retains the dubious distinction of having the largest percentage decline in employment nationwide.  On a more positive note, a 1.3% employment increase in Hot Springs made that metro area the fourth in the state to break the barrier of having higher employment now than before the 2008-09 recession.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics

The figure below illustrates the wide range of payroll employment growth since the onset of the recession (smoothed, by taking quarterly averages of the monthly figures).  In Jonesboro, employment is nearly 13% higher than it was in the fourth quarter of 2007.  At the other extreme, employment in Pine Bluff has fallen by more than 16% over the same period.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics

Arkansas Employment and Unemployment – June 2015

By , July 21, 2015 11:30 AM

The unemployment rate ticked down to 5.7% in June from a revised 5.8% in May.  The rate has been hovering in range of 5.6% to 5.8% since last fall.  The unemployment rate had come down rapidly during 2013 and 2014, but it is not surprising that its descent has slowed as we get closer to full-employment.

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

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

The underlying components of the unemployment rate, derived from a household survey, showed slightly improving conditions.  In particular, the number of unemployed Arkansans was down slightly in June, following three consecutive monthly increases.  The number of employed was up for a 20th consecutive month, and has increased by over 45,000 over the past 12 months.  As a result, the labor force continued to expand in June.  Since April 2014, the Arkansas labor force has expanded by nearly 44,000, offsetting about 60% of the decline that we saw from November 2011 through April 2014.

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

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

Payroll Employment
As is always the case in June, the monthly figures on payroll employment were influenced by predictable seasonal factors.  In particular, the not-seasonally adjusted data showed sharp declines in Education Services and Government, both reflecting summer break at educational institutions.  Seasonally adjusted data for these sectors were flat, however, reflecting the fact that the May to June change was typical.  Overall, the not seasonally adjusted figures showed a decline of 3,100 jobs, but after seasonal adjustment total nonfarm payroll employment was up by 1,800.

A rather sharp increase in Construction employment in June (+1,700, seasonally adjusted) was welcome news.  Employment growth in that sector had sagged earlier in the year, but recent growth suggests that the earlier setbacks were, in fact, largely related to poor weather conditions.  The only significant weakness in the monthly employment figures was in Leisure and Hospitality services.

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

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

Compared to June 2014, payroll employment is up by 23,300.  Employment has increased by 61,200 since the employment trough of February 2010, now stands 3,800 (0.3%) above it’s pre-recession level.

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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.

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

Metro Area Unemployment and Employment – May 2015

By , July 1, 2015 5:41 PM

New data on metro area employment and unemployment came out today, including newly revised unemployment figures from the smoothed seasonally adjusted estimates.  On a not seasonally adjusted basis, unemployment rates in Arkansas metro areas ranged from a high of 7.7% in Pine Bluff to a low of 4.3% in Fayetteville.  All eight of the metro areas that include parts of Arkansas have experienced declines in unemployment over the most recent 12-month period.  The largest year-over-year decline was in Texarkana — down 1.2%.

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

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

Since the data revisions earlier this year, smoothed seasonally adjusted estimates of metro area unemployment had not been available.  The process of updating seasonal factors is now complete, so we new have a new set of estimates to compare month-to-month changes in unemployment rates around the state.  As shown in the table below, changes in unemployment rates from April to May were mixed.  Unemployment rates were up in Memphis and Pine Bluff, and were unchanged in Fort Smith and Jonesboro.  In the other four metro areas, unemployment rates moved one-tenth of a point lower.  Statewide, the unemployment rate was unchanged in May.

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

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

The revisions to seasonally adjusted unemployment rates come from three sources.  First are the changes due to the “new generation of time-series models” that were updated to include updated estimate inputs and population controls.  Second are changes in metro area definitions that affected Fort Smith, Memphis and Texarkana (see Metro Area Unemployment and Employment – January 2015).  Third are the updates to the seasonal factors themselves.  The net results of these updates are illustrated in the set of figures below:

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

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

For most of the metro areas in Arkansas, the revisions had the effect of raising the estimates unemployment rates for the period from 2010 through 2012.   The revised statistics also show a smoother downward trend in the unemployment data for late-2013 through 2014.  So far in 2015, the newly-released statistics show leveling-off of unemployment rates in most metro areas, but a move toward higher rates in some areas, particularly Fort Smith and Pine Bluff.

Payroll Employment
Data from the payroll survey show that nonfarm payroll employment changes were mixed in May.   Monthly changes in employment ranged from +1.6% in Hot Springs to -1.2% in Pine Bluff.  Compared to a year ago, Pine Bluff is the only metro area to have experienced a decline in payrolls.  In fact, the Metropolitan Area Employment and Unemployment Summary noted that Pine Bluff had the dubious distinction of having “the largest over-the-year percentage decrease in employment” in the nation (according to the not seasonally adjusted data).   Compared to employment levels before the 2008-09 recession, Little Rock has moved into positive territory, joining Fayetteville and Jonesboro.  The other five metro areas in the state continue to show net declines in employment since December 2007.

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

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

 

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