Employment and unemployment statistics in Central Arkansas offer a mixed message on the health of the region’s workforce, while Northeast Arkansas saw a bounce and Northwest Arkansas took a small step back.
According to statistics released this week by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the size of the Central Arkansas regional workforce during June was 338,603, up from 337,549 during May, but well below the 346,108 during June 2013.
The peak labor force size for the region was 350,761 set in July 2008, which means the labor force has shrunk 3.46% in central Arkansas in almost six years.
The number of employed in the region totaled 318,878 in June, up from 317,921 in May, and an estimated 2,853 jobs below the 321,731 employed in June 2013.
Unemployed persons in the region totaled an estimated 19,725 during June, up from the 19,628 during May, but well below the 24,377 during June 2013.
Six of the eight metro areas in or connected to Arkansas had jobless rate increases in June compared to May, but all had jobless rate declines compared to June 2013.
Northwest Arkansas and Central Arkansas jobless rates in June were unchanged compared to May.
During June, the lowest metro jobless rate in the state was 4.9% in Northwest Arkansas and the highest rate was 8.7% in the Memphis-West Memphis area.
The Central Arkansas area manufacturing sector employed an estimated 19,900 in June, up from 19,800 in May, and up compared to 19,700 in June 2013. Sector employment is down almost 22% from a decade ago when June 2004 manufacturing employment in the metro area stood at 25,400.
Jobs in the Trade, Transportation and Utilities sector totaled 66,500 in June, down from 66,800 in May, and above the 66,400 during June 2013. Employment in the sector reached a high of 72,700 in December 2006.
Employment in the region’s tourism industry was 33,800 during June, down from 33,900 in May and above the 32,100 in June 2013. The May employment marked a new high for the sector.
In Education & Health Services, employment was 51,500 during June, down from 51,900 in May and above the 51,000 during June 2013. Annual average monthly employment in the sector has steadily grown since 2005 when it reached 43,600. In 2012 the average was 51,800, but fell slightly to 51,300 in 2013. Employment in the sector reached a record 53,100 in October 2012.
In the Government sector – the region’s largest sector – employment was 70,800 during June, down compared to 71,700 in May and up compared to 70,500 in June 2013.
Unemployment rates were lower in June than a year earlier in 359 of the 372 metropolitan areas, higher in 10 areas, and unchanged in three areas, noted the broad BLS report.
The U.S. unemployment rate in June was 6.1%, down from 7.5% from a year earlier.
Arkansas’ jobless rate was 6.2% in June, down from 6.4% in May and down from 7.6% in June 2013.
ARKANSAS METRO AREAS
June 2014: 4.9%
May 2014: 4.9%
June 2013: 6.1%
June 2014: 6.4%
May 2014: 6.3%
June 2013: 8.2%
June 2014: 6.5%
May 2014: 6.4%
June 2013: 7.9%
June 2014: 6%
May 2014: 5.8%
June 2013: 7.5%
Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway
June 2014: 5.8%
May 2014: 5.8%
June 2013: 7%
June 2014: 8.7%
May 2014: 7.5%
June 2013: 10%
June 2014: 8.6%
May 2014: 8.4%
June 2013: 10.5%
June 2014: 6.3%
May 2014: 6.1%
June 2013: 7.5%