Metro Area Employment & Unemployment – December 2018

By , January 30, 2019 4:25 PM

The final metro area employment report for 2018 came out this morning.  In December, unemployment rates among Arkansas metro areas showed a mix of changes.  From November to December, seasonally adjusted data showed unemployment rate declines on four metro areas (Hot Springs, Jonesboro, Memphis and Pine Bluff).  Fort Smith, Little Rock and Texarkana saw upticks in unemployment, while the rate was unchanged in Northwest Arkansas.  Compared to a year earlier, not-seasonally adjusted data indicate that rates are unchanged to up slightly, with the exception being Fort Smith’s 0.5% decline.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

The figure below illustrates the recent paths of metro unemployment rates.  Across the state, unemployment rates showed declines during the late spring and summer, reversing those changes during the latter months of the year.  (Memphis is an exception, showing nearly the reverse pattern.)  This short term fluctuations are typically smoothed out when the data go through the annual revision process.  We’ll find out the results of those revisions on February 28.

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

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

Payroll Employment
Nonfarm payrolls showed employment declines for most of Arkansas’ metro areas in December.  Little Rock was the only metro to experience a month-to-month employment increase, with Fayetteville and Pine Bluff essentially unchanged.  Compared to December 2017, employment was up in all metro areas except for Pine Bluff (-0.9%).  The largest year-over-year increases were for Jonesboro (2.4%) and Fayetteville (2.3%).

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

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

Employment growth in 2018 was generally consistent with the trends that have prevailed in recent years.  Fayetteville and Jonesboro are clearly the fastest-growing metro areas in the state, with Little Rock and Memphis growing at a somewhat slower pace.  Since February 2010, when employment reached a low point both statewide and nationally, total employment has changed very little in Fort Smith, Texarkana and Hot Springs.  Pine Bluff has experienced a cumulative 12.6% decline over that time.  Compared to the pre-recession employment peak (December 2007), employment has still not fully recovered in Fort Smith, Hot Springs, Pine Bluff and Texarkana.

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

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

The payroll data will also be revised before we get another current reading on the metro area employment situation.  The annual “benchmark” revisions can sometimes be substantial, especially for metro areas.  The revised data will not be available until mid-March.  We will revisit the metro area employment statistics for 2018 after those revisions are released.

 

Arkansas Employment and Unemployment – December 2018

By , January 18, 2019 12:37 PM

The Arkansas unemployment rate held steady in December at 3.6% after having registered a 0.1% uptick in November.  The national unemployment rate rose from 3.7% to 3.9% in December.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

For the third consecutive month, the underlying components of the unemployment rate showed an increase in both the number of employed and the number of unemployed, implying an expanding labor force.  For the period September through December, the household survey shows an employment increase of 2,843 and an unemployment increase of 1,881.  Consequently, the labor force participation rate increased in December from 57.4% to 57.5%.  As is often the case, this increase in labor force participation is mathematically associated with a higher unemployment rate (manifested in the November uptick), but is not an unambiguously negative development.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics

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

Payroll Survey
Nonfarm payroll employment increased by 1,800 in December (seasonally adjusted), and the figure for November was also revised upward by 200 jobs compared to last month’s report.  As a result, Arkansas payroll employment ended the year with 17,100 more jobs than at the end of 2017 — a growth rate of 1.4%.  Over the same period, U.S. employment growth expanded by 1.8%.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

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

Throughout much of the current economic expansion, job growth has been almost entirely concentrated in service-providing sectors.  In recent months, however, goods-producing sectors have been making a comeback.  Manufacturing ended the year with an increase of 3,800 jobs (+2.4%), with gains in both durable and nondurable-goods manufacturing.  With the construction sector also adding 1,900 jobs, good-producing sectors accounted for over 5% of the state’s job growth in 2018.  In December alone, good producing sectors accounted for over 90% of total employment growth, with service-providing sectors adding only 100 net new jobs for the month.  Job losses were reported for Transportation & Utilities, Financial Services, and Leisure & Hospitality Services.  Professional & Business services continued to expand, with employment up 500 for the month and up 4,800 since December 2007.

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

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

Today’s report is the last monthly update before the annual revisions to the data are announced.  Updated estimates of household employment and the unemployment rate will be released on February 28, and the “benchmark revision” to payroll employment will be unveiled on March 11.

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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 here:  Table-Seasonally Adjusted NFPE.

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