Arkansas Economic Development Institute

Metro Area Employment and Unemployment – July 2016

By , August 31, 2016 5:02 PM

Unemployment rates in the state’s metro areas showed mixed changes in July.  On a year-over-year basis, all eight of the metro areas covering parts of Arkansas showed declines.  The largest declines over the past 12 months occurred in Pine Bluff (-1.6%), Hot Springs (-1.5%), and Jonesboro (-1.4%).

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

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

Seasonally adjusted data shows that changes from June to July varied from -0.3 percent in Pine bluff to +0.2% in Texarkana.  Unemployment rates ticked up in Memphis and ticked down in Fayetteville and Hot Springs.  Rates were unchanged in Fort Smith, Jonesboro and Little Rock.

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

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

Unemployment rates are below the statewide average of 3.9% in Fayetteville, Jonesboro and Little Rock.  The latest decline in Pine Bluff knocked that metro area out of the unenviable position of having the highest unemployment rate in the state, with that dubious honor now belonging to the Memphis metro area (which includes only one county in Arkansas).

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

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

Payroll Employment
The data on nonfarm payroll employment showed that the two fastest-growing metro areas continued to surge, with Fayetteville up 0.6% and Jonesboro up 0.7%.   Compared to a year ago, both the Northwest and Northeast corners of the state have seen employment gains in the neighborhood of 4%.  In contrast employment declined from June to July in Hot Springs, little Rock, Memphis, Pine Bluff, and Texarkana.  Only two metro areas had employment lower than a year earlier:  Pine Bluff and Texarkana.

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

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

Arkansas House Prices – 2016:Q2

By , August 30, 2016 12:12 PM

The most recent data from the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) show that house prices in Arkansas continue to rise, albeit not as rapidly as the nationwide average. According to the FHFA’s Expanded-Data Indexes, house prices edged only slightly higher in the second quarter of 2016 (+0.02%) but are up by 3.3% compared to a year earlier.  The data for the U.S. showed a quarterly increase of 1.3%, with a cumulative increase of 3.8% from 2015:Q2.  Since house prices bottomed-out in 2011:Q2, prices in Arkansas have risen 16.1%, compared to a 30.3% increase nationwide.  House prices in Arkansas are now slightly higher than before the housing-market crash of early 2007, but remain more than 3% below that baseline for the U.S.

Source:  Federal Housing Finance Agency

Source: Federal Housing Finance Agency

Using the slightly less comprehensive All-Transactions Indexes we can see that house prices rose in most areas of the state during the second quarter, with the exception being Hot Springs, where prices declined by 1.2%.  The largest quarterly increase was in Texarkana, where house prices were up by 5.5%.

Source:  Federal Housing Finance Agency, Seasonally Adjusted by the Arkansas Institute for Economic Advancement.

Source: Federal Housing Finance Agency, Seasonally Adjusted by the Arkansas Institute for Economic Advancement.

Since prices began rising five years ago, the markets that saw the largest declines between 2007:Q1 and 2011:Q2 have shown substantial recoveries:  In particular, the 5-year price increase in Northwest Arkansas has been 19.8%.  Nevertheless, house prices remain below their 2007 peaks in in Northwest Arkansas, as well as in Memphis and Hot Springs.  After the large increase in 2016:Q2, house prices in Texarkana are now more than 20% higher than the nationwide house-price collapse.  Note, however, that prices in Texarkana showed no significant decline in the post-2007 downturn.

Source:  Federal Housing Finance Agency, Seasonally Adjusted by the Arkansas Institute for Economic Advancement.

Source: Federal Housing Finance Agency, Seasonally Adjusted by the Arkansas Institute for Economic Advancement.

Given the vigorous demand for housing that is evident in home sales data, continued upward pressure on house prices is expected to continue.

Arkansas Employment and Unemployment – July 2016

By , August 19, 2016 4:27 PM

The Arkansas unemployment rate was unchanged in July, remaining at a (revised) rate of 3.9%.  Some of the weakness evident in the employment report for June carried over into the July report.  After a long string of extremely strong reports from the household side of the survey, the July data showed the number of employed declining and the number of unemployed increasing for a second consecutive month.  Employment contracted by 2,700 and unemployment edged upward by 270, leaving a net decline in the labor force of 2,430.

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

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

Although the June and July reports represent a departure from the consistently upbeat trends of recent months, the overall situation remains undeniably positive.  The unemployment rate in Arkansas is a full percentage point lower than the national average, and the 12-month decline of 1.3% is the largest drop in the nation (tied with Tennessee).

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Payroll Employment
The payroll side of the employment report continues to show much weaker job growth than the household survey.  Nonfarm payroll employment contracted by 2,000 jobs in July (seasonally adjusted), leaving total employment down 900 from the level of December 2015.  July’s job losses were concentrated in Manufacturing, Retail Trade and Leisure & Hospitality Services.  Small declines were also registered in Wholesale Trade, Transportation & Utilities, and Professional & Business Services.  One strong sector was Construction, which increased by 1,100 jobs for the month.

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

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

Although payroll employment growth has been essentially zero for the first 7 months of 2016, employment is up by 16,700 jobs compared to a year ago.  Most of the year-over-year job gains have been in the service-providing sectors, particularly Professional & Business Services and Education and Health Services.  Employment in manufacturing continues to languish, down 1,500 jobs from a year ago and down 5,500 jobs from the employment trough of February 2010.

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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 – June 2016

By , August 3, 2016 4:35 PM

Unemployment rates ticked up in Arkansas metro areas in June, but rates remain far lower than a year ago.  Today’s news release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics noted that unemployment rates were lower than a year earlier in 285 of the nations 387 metropolitan areas, and all 8 metro areas that cover parts of Arkansas were in that total.  Year-over-year changes ranged from -0.7% in Fort Smith and Texarkana to -1.6% in Pine Bluff.

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

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

From May to June, not-seasonally adjusted unemployment rates increased by 0.3 to 0.5 percentage points, but most of those gains were typical seasonal changes.  After seasonal adjustment, unemployment rates increased by only 0.1 percentage point in most metro areas.  Rate increases were larger for Fort Smith and Memphis, and unemployment was unchanged in Texarkana.  As previously reported, the statewide unemployment rate (seasonally adjusted) was unchanged at 3.8% in June, while the national unemployment rate increased by 0.2 percentage points from 4.7% to 4.9%.

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

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

Payroll Employment
Nonfarm payroll employment changes were mixed  From May to June, payrolls declined in Little Rock, Pine Bluff and Fort Smith but were up in the state’s other metro areas.  Employment in Hot Springs was up 0.8%.  From June 2015 to June 2016, employment in three metro areas increased at a higher rate than the statewide average of 1.7%:  Hot Springs increased 3.8%, Fayetteville was up 3.7%, and Jonesboro rose by 3.5%.  Since the employment trough of February 2010, the northwest and northeast corners of the state have seen the strongest job growth (23% in Fayetteville and 16.4% in Pine Bluff).  At the other extreme, employment in Pine Bluff is nearly 10% lower than in February 2010, and is down 12.3% from pre-recession levels.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics

The chart below illustrates the divergent employment trends among the state’s metro areas since the 2008-09 recession.  Fayetteville, Jonesboro and Little Rock are the only three metro areas to have higher employment now than at the end of 2007.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics

 

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