Fort Smith area jobless rate reaches 9.1%

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 71 views 

There is no good news in the February jobless report for the Fort Smith region, with unemployment during the month rising to 9.1%, up from 8.9% during January and the same as the February 2011 rate.

Four of the eight metro areas in or connected to Arkansas had jobless rate increases in February compared to January, with one metro area unchanged and three with lower jobless rates. Two of the eight metro areas posted jobless rates higher than February 2011, with four posting lower rates and two unchanged.

During February, the lowest metro jobless rate was 6.4% in Northwest Arkansas and the highest rate was 10.3% in Pine Bluff.

The number of employed in the Fort Smith region during February was an estimated 116,405, up from a revised 116,098 during January, but more than 5.2% below the 122,835 employed in the region during February 2011.

Based on the figures released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were an estimated 6,430 fewer people employed in the Fort Smith metro area during February compared to February 2011.

The size of the workforce grew to 128,088 during February, slightly higher than the revised 127,459 during January, but well below the 135,069 during February 2011. March 2004 was the last time the regional workforce was below 130,000.

The number of unemployed in the metro area during February was 11,683, above the 11,361 during January, but below the 12,234 during February 2011.

FORT SMITH METRO NUMBERS
• Fort Smith’s manufacturing sector employed an estimated 18,800 in February, above the revised 18,700 in January 2011, and below the 20,800 during February 2011. Employment in the sector is down more than 39% 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 22,900 in February, down from 23,400 in January, and below the 23,400 during February 2011. Employment in the sector is off from the high of 25,700 posted in December 2007.

• Employment in the region’s tourism industry was 7,900 during February, unchanged from February and down from 8,200 during February 2011. The sector reached an employment high of 9,800 in August 2008.

• In Education & Health Services, employment was 15,400 during February, down from 15,500 during January and down from 16,100 during February 2011.

NATIONAL NUMBERS
Unemployment rates were lower in February than a year earlier in 344 of the 372 metropolitan areas, higher in 19 areas, and unchanged in 9 areas, noted the BLS report. Also, 13 areas recorded jobless rates of at least 15%, while 12 areas registered rates of less than 5%.

The U.S. unemployment rate in February was 8.3%, down from 8.9% from a year earlier.

Oklahoma’s jobless rate during February was 6%, down from 6.1% during January, and below the 6.1% during February 2011. The Missouri jobless rate during February was 7.4%, down from 7.5% in January, and well below the 8.9% during February 2011.

ARKANSAS METRO AREAS
Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers
Feb. 2012: 6.4%
Jan. 2012: 6.3%
Feb. 2011: 6.7%

Fort Smith
Feb. 2012: 9.1%
Jan. 2012: 8.9%
Feb. 2011: 9.1%

Hot Springs
Feb. 2012: 8.8%
Jan. 2012: 8.5%
Feb. 2011: 8.8%

Jonesboro
Feb. 2012: 8.1%
Jan. 2012: 8.1%
Feb. 2011: 7.9%

Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway
Feb. 2012: 7.4%
Jan. 2012: 7.2%
Feb. 2011: 7.1%

Memphis-West Memphis
Feb. 2012: 9.2%
Jan. 2012: 9.4%
Feb. 2011: 10.4%

Pine Bluff
Feb. 2012: 10.3%
Jan. 2012: 10.4%
Feb. 2011: 10.4%

Texarkana
Feb. 2012: 7.1%
Jan. 2012: 7.5%
Feb. 2011: 7.5%

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%

NORTHWEST ARKANSAS METRO AREA HISTORY
Past annual average unemployment rates
2010: 6.5%
2009: 6.1%
2008: 4.1%
2007: 3.8%
2006: 3.6%
2005: 3.3%
2004: 3.8%
2003: 3.7%
2002: 3.3%
2001: 3%
2000: 2.9%