The unemployment rate in the Northwest metro area was 5.6% in December, up above the November rate of 5.5% but below the 6.1% 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. During December, the lowest metro jobless rate was 5.6% in Northwest Arkansas and the highest rate was 9.4% in Pine Bluff.
Jobless rates and data in Wednesday’s (Feb. 1) report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics are preliminary and subject to change.
Open Doors, a local networking resource for unemployed professionals in Northwest Arkansas, reports the local job market stalling since the end of November.
“We had about 30 folks find employment in the retail vendor community in the past few months, but it’s been really slow through December,” said Vicky Carroll, group leader for the organization.
She said finding employment is a full-time job, but it’s a little easier when applicants make an effort to network or at the very least volunteer in an area where they might want to secure employment. Carroll, a bookkeeper, spent 10 years at Walmart, before health concerns altered her career trajectory.
Carroll says the local unemployed come in all shapes and sizes.
“I have younger professionals downsized from banks and corporate jobs to an 83-year-old gentlemen who needs to find work to supplement his retirement income. While the economy is a little better, there are still plenty of folks looking for work,” she said.
Open Doors meets at 9 a.m. each Wednesday at the John Brown University campus in Rogers.
NORTHWEST ARKANSAS METRO NUMBERS
The number of unemployed during December was 12,864, more than the 12,484 in November but more than 1,000 jobs below the 13,906 during December 2010. However, the number of employed during December was an estimated 214,915, below the 215,847 during November and above the 213,145 during December 2010.
The size of the workforce fell to 227,779 during December, below the 228,331 during November.
The metro area manufacturing sector employed an estimated 27,900 in December, unchanged from November, and below 29,000 in December 2010. Employment in the sector is down 21.6% from more than a decade ago when January 2001 manufacturing employment in the metro area stood at 35,600.
Jobs in the Trade, Transportation and Utilities sector — the region’s largest job sector — totaled 45,500 in December, up from 44,700 in November, and up from the 45,300 during December 2010. Employment in the sector during December marked the highest level during 2011.
Employment in the region’s tourism industry is on a three-month decline. December employment was an estimated 18,900, down from 19,100 during November, but up from 18,300 during December 2010. The sector reached an employment high of 19,500 in May.
In Education & Health Services, employment was 23,100 during December, up from a revised 22,900 during November and up from 22,500 during December 2010. This employment sector has proven somewhat resilient during the recession and the weak recovery.
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
Dec. 2011: 5.6%
Nov. 2011: 5.5%
Dec. 2010: 6.1%
Dec. 2011: 8%
Nov. 2011: 7.8%
Dec. 2010: 8.5%
Dec. 2011: 7.4%
Nov. 2011: 7%
Dec. 2010: 8%
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%
Dec. 2011: 8.8%
Nov. 2011: 9.2%
Dec. 2010: 9.4%
Dec. 2011: 9.4%
Nov. 2011: 9.2%
Dec. 2010: 9.8%
Dec. 2011: 6.8%
Nov. 2011: 6.9%
Dec. 2010: 7.1%
NORTHWEST ARKANSAS METRO AREA HISTORY
Past annual average unemployment rates