Number of employed declines in Fort Smith area

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 42 views 

The March jobless rate in the Fort Smith metro area fell below February and March 2011 levels, but the size of the regional workforce continues to decline — a sign that people having given up looking for jobs or are leaving the area.

According to figures released Wednesday (May 2) by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the March jobless rate in the Fort Smith area was 8%, down from a revised 9.2% in February and below the March 2011 rate of 8.8%.

All of the eight metro areas in or connected to Arkansas had jobless rate decreases in March compared to February and March 2011. During March, the lowest metro jobless rate was 5.7% in Northwest Arkansas and the highest rate was 9.3% in Pine Bluff.

FORT SMITH METRO NUMBERS
The number of employed during March was an estimated 116,735, up from 115,892 during February but almost 5% below the 122,809 employed in the region during March 2011.

Unemployed persons in the region totaled 10,108 during March, down from 11,711 during February and below the 11,778 during March 2011.

The regional labor force — estimated number of working-age people in an area — totaled 126,843 during March, a decline of 7,744 people compared to March 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.

Fort Smith’s manufacturing sector employed an estimated 18,500 in March, below the 18,800 in February, and below the 20,700 during March 2011. Employment in the sector is down more than 39.7% 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 22,800 in March, unchanged in February, and below the 23,400 during March 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 8,100 during March, up from 7,800 in February and down from 8,500 during March 2011. The sector reached an employment high of 9,800 in August 2008.

In Education & Health Services, employment was 15,200 during March, down from 15,300 during February and down from 16,300 during March 2011.

NATIONAL NUMBERS
Unemployment rates were lower in March than a year earlier in 342 of the 372 metropolitan areas, higher in 16 areas, and unchanged in 14 areas, noted the BLS report. Also, 13 areas recorded jobless rates of at least 15%, while 17 areas registered rates of less than 5%.

The U.S. unemployment rate in March was 8.2%, down from 8.9% from a year earlier.

Arkansas’ jobless rate was 7.4% in March, down from 7.6% during February and below the 8% rate in March 2011.

Oklahoma’s jobless rate during March was 5.4%, down from 6% during February, and below the 5.9% during March 2011. The Missouri jobless rate during March was 7.4%, unchanged compared to February, and below the 8.7% during February 2011.

ARKANSAS METRO AREAS
Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers

March 2012: 5.7%
Feb. 2012: 6.5%
March 2011: 6.3%

Fort Smith
March 2012: 8%
Feb. 2012: 9.2%
March 2011: 8.8%

Hot Springs
March 2012: 7.8%
Feb. 2012: 8.8%
March 2011: 8.6%

Jonesboro
March 2012: 7%
Feb. 2012: 8.1%
March 2011: 7.9%

Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway
March 2012: 6.7%
Feb. 2012: 7.4%
March 2011: 7%

Memphis-West Memphis
March 2012: 8.8%
Feb. 2012: 9.2%
March 2011: 10%

Pine Bluff
March 2012: 9.3%
Feb. 2012: 10.3%
March 2011: 10.3%

Texarkana
March 2012: 6.7%
Feb. 2012: 7.1%
March 2011: 7.4%

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%