Fort Smith jobless rate up in December

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 52 views 

The unemployment rate in the Fort Smith metro area was 8% in December, up above the November rate of 7.8% but below the 8.5% during December 2010.

In the eight metro areas in or connected to Arkansas, six had jobless rate increases in December compared to November, and all posted jobless rates lower than December 2010.

Jobless rates and data in Wednesday’s (Feb. 1) report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics are preliminary and subject to change.

During December, the lowest metro jobless rate was 5.6% in Northwest Arkansas and the highest rate was 9.4% in Pine Bluff. The number of unemployed in the Northwest Arkansas metro area during December was 12,864, down from the 13,906 during December 2010.

FORT SMITH METRO NUMBERS
The number of unemployed during December was 10,342, ahead of the 10,292 in November but more than 1,000 jobs below the 11,354 during December 2010. However, the number of employed during December was an estimated 119,722, almost 2% below the 122,093 during November and below the 121,979 during December 2010.

The size of the workforce fell to 130,064 during December, well below the 132,385 during November. March 2004 was the last time the regional workforce was below 130,000.

Fort Smith’s manufacturing sector employed an estimated 20,700 in December, unchanged from November, and below 21,000 in December 2010. Employment in the sector is down more than 32% from more than a decade ago when January 2001 manufacturing employment in the metro area stood at 30,700.

Jobs in the Trade, Transportation and Utilities sector — the region’s largest job sector —  totaled 23,800 in December, down from a revised 24,000 in November, and below the 24,300 during December 2010. Employment in the sector is off from the high of 25,700 posted in December 2007.

Employment in the region’s tourism industry is on a five-month decline. December employment was an estimated 8,700, down from 8,900 during November, but up from 8,600 during December 2010. The sector reached an employment high of 9,800 in August 2008.

In Education & Health Services, employment was 15,900 during December, down from a revised 16,100 during November and down from 16,200 during December 2010. This employment sector has proven somewhat resilient during the recession and the weak recovery. Peak employment in the sector of 16,400 was reached in May.

NATIONAL NUMBERS

Unemployment rates were lower in December than a year earlier in 329 of the 372 metropolitan areas, higher in 36 areas, and unchanged in 7 areas, noted the BLS report. Also, 10 areas recorded jobless rates of at least 15%, while 24 areas registered rates of less than 5%.

ARKANSAS METRO AREAS
Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers
Dec. 2011: 5.6%
Nov. 2011: 5.5%
Dec. 2010: 6.1%

Fort Smith
Dec. 2011: 8%
Nov. 2011: 7.8%
Dec. 2010: 8.5%

Hot Springs
Dec. 2011: 7.4%
Nov. 2011: 7%
Dec. 2010: 8%

Jonesboro
Dec. 2011: 6.9%
Nov. 2011: 6.4%
Dec. 2010: 7.4%

Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway
Dec. 2011: 6.5%
Nov. 2011: 6.3%
Dec. 2010: 6.8%

Memphis-West Memphis
Dec. 2011: 8.8%
Nov. 2011: 9.2%
Dec. 2010: 9.4%

Pine Bluff
Dec. 2011: 9.4%
Nov. 2011: 9.2%
Dec. 2010: 9.8%

Texarkana
Dec. 2011: 6.8%
Nov. 2011: 6.9%
Dec. 2010: 7.1%

FORT SMITH METRO AREA HISTORY
Past annual average unemployment rates
2010: 8.2%
2009: 7.9%
2008: 4.8%
2007: 5.3%
2006: 4.9%
2005: 4.5%
2004: 5.2%
2003: 5.5%
2002: 5%
2001: 4.2%
2000: 3.7%