Area jobless rate improves but fewer employed

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 24 views 

The April jobless rate improved in the Fort Smith region, but the number of employed continues to be below the same period in 2011.

The 7.3% April jobless rate in the region was down compared to 8% in March and below the 8.2% during April 2011.

The number of employed during April was an estimated 118,843, above the 116,742 during March but down 3.38% compared to the 123,006 employed in the region during April 2011.

According to figures released Wednesday (May 30) by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the size of the regional workforce during April was 128,240, ahead of the 126,886 during March and more than 5,000 below the 133,931 during April 2011. The regional labor force consistently remained above 130,000 beginning in April 2004, but fell below 130,000 in December. The labor force reached a high of 139,544 in June 2008.

All of the eight metro areas in or connected to Arkansas had jobless rate decreases in April compared to March 2012 and April 2011. During April, the lowest metro jobless rate was in Northwest Arkansas and the highest rate was 8.8% in Pine Bluff.

FORT SMITH METRO NUMBERS
Unemployed persons in the region totaled 9,397 during April, down from 10,144 during March and below the 10,925 during April 2011.

The Fort Smith area manufacturing sector employed an estimated 18,900 in April, up compared to 18,600 in March, and below the 20,500 during April 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 23,500 in April, up from 22,900 during March, but below the 24,200 during April 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 8,600 during April, up from 8,200 in March and unchanged compared to April 2011. The sector reached an employment high of 9,800 in August 2008.

In Education & Health Services, employment was 15,100 during April, up from 14,800 during March and below the 16,300 during April 2011.

NATIONAL NUMBERS
Unemployment rates were lower in April than a year earlier in 342 of the 372 metropolitan areas, higher in 25 areas, and unchanged in 5 areas, noted the BLS report. Also, 10 areas recorded jobless rates of at least 15%, while 32 areas registered rates of less than 5%.

The U.S. unemployment rate in April was 8.1%, down from 9% from a year earlier.

Arkansas’ jobless rate was 7.2% in April, down from 7.4% during March and below the 8% rate in April 2011.

Oklahoma’s jobless rate during April was 5%, down from 5.4% during March, and below the 5.9% during April 2011. The Missouri jobless rate during April was 7.3%, down from 7.4% during March, and below the 8.6% during April 2011.

ARKANSAS METRO AREAS
Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers
April 2012: 5.3%
March 2012: 5.7%
April 2011: 5.9%

Fort Smith
April 2012: 7.3%
March 2012: 8%
April 2011: 8.2%

Hot Springs
April 2012: 7.2%
March 2012: 7.8%
April 2011: 7.9%

Jonesboro
April 2012: 6.5%
March 2012: 7.1%
April 2011: 7.4%

Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway
April 2012: 6.2%
March 2012: 6.7%
April 2011: 6.7%

Memphis-West Memphis
April 2012: 8.4%
March 2012: 8.8%
April 2011: 9.8%

Pine Bluff
April 2012: 8.8%
March 2012: 9.4%
April 2011: 9.8%

Texarkana
April 2012: 6.2%
March 2012: 6.6%
April 2011: 7.1%

FORT SMITH METRO AREA HISTORY
Past annual average unemployment rates
2011: 8.6%
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
2011: 6.2%
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%