Arkansas Economic Development Institute

Arkansas Employment and Unemployment – November 2015

By , December 18, 2015 12:52 PM

The unemployment rate in Arkansas declined by one-tenth of a percent to 5.0% in November, matching the national average.  The press release from the Department of Workforce Services pointed out that the last time the Arkansas unemployment rate was this low was in April 2008 (when the U.S. unemployment rate was also 5.0%).

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

The household data showed that the number of unemployed declined by 1,968, while the number of employed edged up by 205 (resulting in a labor force decline of 1,763.)  Over the past six months, the number of employed Arkansans has increased by 9,443 while the number of unemployed has declined by 10,301.

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

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

Payroll Survey
In contrast to the recent employment trends from the household survey data, nonfarm payroll employment contracted by 2,200 jobs in November (seasonally adjusted).  The employment total for October was revised upward by 1,100 jobs, however, so the net change from September was a loss of only 1,300 jobs.  Compared to 6 months ago (May), payroll employment has increased by 4,200.  Over the past 12 months, it is up by 14,700.  While the trend in job growth remains positive, there is clearly a loss of momentum in recent months.

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

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

From October to November, both Manufacturing and Construction were down by over 1,000 jobs.  Employment in construction typically declines this time of year, but the fact that the seasonally-adjusted change was negative implies a larger-than-usual decline in jobs.  Similarly, the seasonally-adjusted decline of 1,100 jobs in Retail Trade (along with the year-over-year decline) indicates that holiday hiring has not been as robust as usual or expected.  Sectors that added jobs in November included Professional & Business Services and Education & Health Services.  Those two “super-sectors” alone have increased by nearly 12,000 over the past twelve months, and have expanded by more than 46,000 jobs since the pre-recession date of December 2007.

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 – October 2015

By , December 8, 2015 4:12 PM

The latest data on metro area employment and unemployment was mixed.  In a previous release, the statewide unemployment rate ticked down by one-tenth of a percent in October, but nonfarm payroll employment was basically flat.  Overall, the metro area data show similarly unremarkable changes for October.

Not seasonally adjusted data from the household survey shows that unemployment in all of Arkansas metro areas remains below the levels of a year ago.  The press release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that year-over-year declines were realized in 337 of the nations 387 metropolitan areas.

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

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

Month to month changes are typically influenced at this time of year by seasonal factors, with schools back in session and holiday temporary hiring starting to pick up.   The seasonally adjusted data show, however, there was little change in unemployment rates in Arkansas metro areas after accounting for these recurring seasonal factors.  Rates were unchanged in Fayetteville, Hot Springs, Little Rock and Pine Bluff.  Unemployment ticked up one tenth of a percent in Jonesboro and Texarkana, and down by one tenth in Fort Smith and Memphis.

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

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

Payroll Employment
Changes in nonfarm payroll employment (seasonally adjusted) were mixed.  From September to October, employment was unchanged in Little Rock, up slightly in Fayetteville and Fort Smith, but down in the state’s other metro areas.  Compared to a year ago, employment was down significantly in Pine Bluff, but unchanged or higher in the other seven metro areas.

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

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

Arkansas Taxable Sales – 2015:Q3

By , December 2, 2015 3:39 PM

Final data are now available showing that Arkansas Taxable Sales rose sharply in the third quarter of 2015.  The basic measure of taxable sales — derived from state sales tax collections — increased by 3.0% from the second quarter to the third (seasonally adjusted).  On a year-over-year basis, Arkansas Taxable Sales (ATS) was up 5.6%.

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.

Falling gasoline prices continue to suppress the growth of total estimated spending on gasoline.  Arkansas gas prices averaged $2.28 in the third quarter, down from $2.40 in the second quarter.  As a result, spending on gasoline declined by 1.1% from the second quarter to the third quarter (seasonally adjusted), and was down by over 25% compared to the third quarter of 2014.   Accordingly, Arkansas Taxable Sales Including Gasoline (ATSIG) rose at a slower pace than ATS.   From the second quarter to the third quarter, ATSIG increased by 2.7%, and was up only 3.3% from the previous year.

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.

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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 monthly and quarterly data is available here: Arkansas Taxable Sales 2015:Q3 (Excel file).

Local Area Personal Income – 2014

By , December 1, 2015 3:24 PM

The Bureau of Economic Analysis released new data on local area personal income for 2014 last week.  As shown in the figure and table below, per capita personal income increased in all 8 of the metro areas that include parts of Arkansas, with increases ranging from 1.6% in Pine Bluff to 4.1% in Fort Smith.  As measured by the price index for personal consumption expenditures, the general level of prices rose by 1.4% in 2014, so all 8 metro areas saw positive growth even after adjusting for inflation.

Source:  Bureau of Economic Analysis

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

Source:  Bureau of Economic Analysis

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

The data release also included revisions of estimates from previous years, reflecting information from “source data that are more complete and more detailed than previously available.”  For the most part, the revisions to metro area per capita income were negative.  For 2013, the revised data lowered measured income just slightly in the Memphis metro area, but by larger amounts in the state’s other metros. Other than Memphis, the smallest downward revision was for Texarkana (-5.7%) while the largest was for Hot Springs (-9.6%).  In contrast, the 2013 level of per capita income for the Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers Metro Area was revised upward by 30%.  A closer look at revisions to data from individual counties shows that the change was primarily attributable to increased estimates of income in Benton County, with the 2013 revision amounting to 63.7%. (Madison county was also revised upward by 13.2%).

A full list of per capita income by county in 2014 — both in terms of dollars and as a percent of the U.S. average — as well as the 2013-14 growth rate is presented below:

Source:  Bureau of Economic Analysis

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

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