Arkansas Economic Development Institute

Arkansas Employment and Unemployment – September 2015

By , October 20, 2015 11:32 AM

The state employment report that came out this morning contained mixed signals.  The good news was that the unemployment rate dropped by two-tenths of a percent to 5.2%.  The national unemployment rate remained steady at 5.1%, so the gap between Arkansas and the U.S. rates narrowed.  Earlier in the year, Arkansas’ unemployment rate had crept upward, reaching a peak of 5.8% in May.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

While the number of unemployed was down by over 2,500, the household data showed that number of employed was up only by about 1,000.  Consequently, the Arkansas labor force contracted for the second time in 3 months.

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

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

Payroll Data
The not-seasonally adjusted payroll data for September showed an increase of 12,300 jobs.  However, the gains were almost entirely seasonal.  Back-to-school effects boosted state and local government employment (public schools) and private sector employment in education.  Leisure and Hospitality and Retail Trade also showed seasonal declines.  After seasonal adjustment (shown in the table below), the data showed a slight decline in employment for the month (-700 jobs).    A relatively bright spot in the report was employment in the construction sector.  Up by 900 jobs for the month, construction activity has added 7,400 jobs over the past year.

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

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics (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, can be found hereTable-Seasonally Adjusted NFPE.

Metro Area Employment and Unemployment – August 2015

By , October 1, 2015 4:31 PM

The latest report on metropolitan area unemployment rates came out yesterday, showing unemployment rates down in all of Arkansas’ metro areas.  The not-seasonally adjusted data showed that on a year-over-year basis, unemployment rates were down by amounts ranging from 0.5% in Fort Smith to 1.6% in Memphis.  The report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics cited a figure that 365 of the 387 metropolitan areas across the country experienced unemployment rate declines since August 2014.

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

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

As is typically the case, the change in unemployment rates from July to August is complicated by seasonal factors.  Not seasonally adjusted data indicate sharp declines of more than half a percentage point in all eight metro areas; however, that is typical of July-to-August changes.   Yet even after seasonal adjustment, rates were down around the state.  Three metro areas matched the 0.2% decline previously reported for the statewide unemployment rate (Fayetteville, Jonesboro and Texarkana).  Fort Smith and Pine Bluff saw declines of 0.1%, while Little Rock and Memphis saw even larger drops.

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

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

Payroll Employment
Changes in nonfarm payroll employment were mixed.   Employment was down by 0.5% in Jonesboro and Memphis, and down by 0.2% in Texarkana*.   Employment in Pine Bluff was unchanged, and was up in the remaining metro areas.  Gains were particularly large in Little Rock (+0.7%) and Hot Springs (+0.8%).  Employment is now higher than pre-recession levels in four of the eight metro areas (Jonesboro, Fayetteville, Little Rock and Hot Springs).

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

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

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*Note:  Payroll data for Texarkana (which now include Little River County) are not presently being published by the BLS on a seasonally adjusted basis.  Payroll employment figures for Texarkana refer to data that have been seasonally adjusted by the Institute for Economic Advancement.

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