Metro Area Employment and Unemployment – December 2019

By , February 5, 2020 11:35 AM

Unemployment rates in Arkansas metro areas were little changed in December. The rate declined by one-tenth of a percent in Memphis, to 4.1%, and increased by one-tenth in Pine Bluff, to 5.3%. Compared to a year earlier, the unemployment rate in Texarkana was down 0.9%, with smaller year-over-year declines reported for Jonesboro, Hot Springs and Northwest Arkansas. Memphis and Pine Bluff saw slight increases since December 2018, while Fort Smith and Little Rock saw zero net change over course of the year.

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

Annual averages for metro area unemployment rates will not be published until March 4th, after the annual data revision process is completed. Using preliminary data, the figure below shows un-revised, unofficial averages for the year. For the year, unemployment rates were lower than the statewide average in Fayetteville, Jonesboro and Little Rock, while rates were above-average in Memphis, Pine Bluff and Texarkana. Unemployment rates in Fort Smith and Hot Springs were approximately equal to the statewide average.

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

Payroll Employment
Nonfarm payroll employment increased in five of the state’s metro areas in December, with the largest increase in Northwest Arkansas (0.5%). Memphis and Texarkana saw slight declines for the month, while Jonesboro and Pine Bluff experienced no net change.

Compared to a year earlier, employment was down by 1.8% in Pine Bluff, but was unchanged or higher in Arkansas’ other metro areas. Fayetteville and Jonesboro continued to show the fastest growth, with rates of 4.1% and 2.6%, respectively.

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

Arkansas Employment and Unemployment – December 2019

By , January 24, 2020 11:47 AM

In the final state-level employment report for 2019, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed solid job growth in Arkansas. The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 3.6%, with both the household and payroll employment data indicating strong year-end increases. The unemployment rate in Arkansas has remained below 4% for 3-1/2 years now and shows no indication of moving outside the range of 3 to 4%.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Household employment was up 2,483 in December and has increased by 4,714 over the past three months. The number of unemployed increased slightly (+214) in December, adding to small increases from the previous three months. Labor force growth has been strong, with nearly 2,700 added to the labor force in December and nearly 6,400 added over the final three months of the year.

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

Payroll Employment
Nonfarm payroll employment surged 5,400 in December, translating to an annualized growth rate of over 5%.  In fact, the news release from the BLS cited Arkansas as one of only three states seeing statistically significant job gains in December. 

Payroll data for November were revised downward by 800, but the year-end employment total was up 18,300 jobs from December of 2018.  In percentage terms that year-over-year change represents a growth rate of 1.4%, roughly matching the U.S. growth rate over the same period.

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

The monthly change in employment was driven primarily by service-sector growth, with Professional & Business Services up 2,800 and Education & Health Services up 2,000. Goods producing sectors showed zero growth, with gains in manufacturing matched by a decline in construction employment.

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

Year-over-year growth job growth was been positive for most sectors. Information Services and Mining & Logging contracted slightly over the course of 2019 and overall government employment was unchanged. Otherwise, job gains emerged in both goods-producing and service-providing sectors. Manufacturing employment was up for the fourth consecutive year. Service sector job growth showed some signs of a slowdown over the summer months but regained momentum toward the end of the year.

Since the current employment-growth trend started (from about December 2013), Arkansas payrolls have expanded by 111,600 jobs, an average annual growth rate of 1.5%.

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Seasonally adjusted data for Arkansas nonfarm payroll employment, reported in a format consistent with the monthly news release from the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, can be found here: Table-Seasonally Adjusted NFPE.

Arkansas GDP – 2019:Q3

By , January 10, 2020 11:56 AM

Arkansas’ Real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increased an an annualized rate of 2.9% in the third quarter of 2019, surpassing the national growth rate of 2.1% and ranking #5 among state GDP growth rates. The third quarter growth rate represents a sharp increase in GDP growth over the second quarter’s 1.8% rate.

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

Smoothing growth rates over a four-quarter moving average, the latest reading puts Arkansas up 1.9% compared to the third quarter of 2018. Over the same period, U.S. GDP expanded by 2.1%.

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

The news release from the Bureau of Economic Analysis noted that the leading contributors to GDP growth nationally included nondurable goods manufacturing; retail trade; and professional, scientific, and technical services. As shown in the table below, the first two of these sectors were also significant contributors to Arkansas’ growth rate. In addition, Arkansas GDP was boosted by strong growth in agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting; as well as management of companies and enterprises. The Agriculture, etc., component itself grew at a rate of 56.2% in the third quarter—the fastest growth rate in the nation for that particular sector.

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

Sectors experiencing negative growth in the third quarter included finance and insurance, which the BEA noted as a factor subtracting from growth in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Other contracting sectors in Arkansas included utilities, and transportation & warehousing.

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