Seven of the eight metro areas in or connected to Arkansas had jobless rate increases in May compared to April, and jobless rate increases compared to May 2012. That’s roughly 87% of the metro areas, which displayed a negative trend while national numbers painted a much different picture.

During May, the lowest metro jobless rate in the state was in Northwest Arkansas with 5.6% and the highest rate was 9.6% in the Pine Bluff area.

May jobless rates were lower in 68% of the 372 U.S. metro areas and higher in 23.1% of the metro areas, but as previously indicated, Arkansas headed in the opposite direction.

Northwest Arkansas was the bright spot in Wednesday’s report.

According to figures released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the size of the Northwest Arkansas regional workforce during May was 240,268, up from the 239,023 during April, and ahead of the 236,308 during May 2012.

Northwest Arkansas continues to trend upward in that category. The average annual monthly labor size was 231,461 during 2012, 227,938 during 2010 and 225,177 during 2009.

The number of employed during May was 226,723, down slightly compared to a revised 226,788 in April. The May employment was higher than the 223,128 in May 2012.

Unemployment rates were lower in May than a year earlier in 253 of the 372 metropolitan areas, higher in 86 areas, and unchanged in 33 areas, noted the broad BLS report.

The U.S. unemployment rate in May was 7.6%, down from 8.2% in May 2012. Arkansas’ jobless rate was 7.3% in May, up from 7.2% in April and unchanged compared to May 2012.

May 2013: 5.6%
April 2013: 5.1%
May 2012: 5.6%

Fort Smith
May 2013: 7.7%
April 2013: 7.2%
May 2012: 7.3%

Hot Springs
May 2013: 7.7%
April 2013: 7.2%
May 2012: 7.3%

May 2013: 6.9%
April 2013: 6.5%
May 2012: 6.7%

Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway
May 2013: 6.6%
April 2013: 6.2%
May 2012: 6.4%

Memphis-West Memphis
May 2013: 9.5%
April 2013: 9%
May 2012: 8.9%

Pine Bluff
May 2013: 9.6%
April 2013: 9%
May 2012: 8.9%

May 2013: 7.1%
April 2013: 6.8%
May 2012: 6.7%

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The City Wire Staff

The City Wire Staff

The City Wire, a content partner with Talk Business & Politics, is a media company that covers business, politics and culture in the Fort Smith and Northwest Arkansas regions of the state. Read online at or follow on Twitter: @TheCityWire.