Job picture positive in NWA economy

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 57 views 

Northwest Arkansas’ economy appears to be back to full speed, with federal figures released Wednesday indicating the region’s jobless rate fell to 5.3% in April and the workforce size set a new record high.

The 5.3% April jobless rate in the region was down compared to 5.7% in March and below the 5.9% 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 241,216, ahead of the 239,279 during March and almost 10,000 more than the 231,572 during April 2011. The average annual monthly labor size was 231,461 during 2011, 227,938 during 2010 and 225,177 during 2009.

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.

NORTHWEST ARKANSAS METRO NUMBERS
The number of employed during April was an estimated 228,547, up from 225,579 during March and up 4.86% compared to the 217,945 employed in the region during April 2011.

Unemployed persons in the region totaled 12,669 during April, down from 13,700 during March and below the 13,627 during April 2011.

The Northwest Arkansas manufacturing sector employed an estimated 27,300 in April, up compared to 27,200 in March, and below the 28,100 during April 2011. Employment in the sector is down more than 20.6% from more than a decade ago when January 2002 manufacturing employment in the metro area stood at 34,300.

Jobs in the Trade, Transportation and Utilities sector — the region’s largest job sector —  totaled 47,400 in April, up from 47,000 during March, and up from the 45,900 during April 2011. Employment in the sector is off from the high of 50,500 posted in December 2006.

Employment in the region’s tourism industry was 20,500 during April, up from 19,500 in March and up from 18,900 during April 2011. April employment in the sector set a new record.

In Education & Health Services, employment was 23,900 during April, up from 23,500 during March and up from 22,700 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%

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%

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%

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