NWA job market continues to grow

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 56 views 

The March jobless rate for the Northwest Arkansas area fell below 6%, with 10,000 more people employed compared to March 2011.

According to figures released Wednesday (May 2) by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the March jobless rate in the Northwest Arkansas area was 5.7%, down from 6.5% in February and below the March 2011 rate of 6.3%.

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 in Northwest Arkansas and the highest rate was 9.3% in Pine Bluff.

NORTHWEST ARKANSAS METRO NUMBERS
The number of employed during March was an estimated 225,742, up from 220,525 during February and up 4.8% compared to the 215,318 employed in the region during March 2011.

Unemployed persons in the region totaled 13,670 during March, down from 15,213 during February and below the 14,407 during March 2011.

The regional labor force — estimated number of working-age people in an area — totaled 239,412 during March, just short of 10,000 more than the 229,725 during March 2011. The March labor force size is a record high for the Northwest Arkansas area. The average annual monthly labor size was 231,461 during 2011, 227,938 during 2010 and 225,177 during 2009.

The Northwest Arkansas manufacturing sector employed an estimated 27,200 in March, unchanged compared to February, and below the 28,100 during March 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 46,900 in March, up from 45,800 during February, and ahead of the 45,200 during March 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 19,300 during March, up from 18,500 in February and up from 18,000 during March 2011. The sector reached an employment high of 19,400 in July 2008.

In Education & Health Services, employment was 23,600 during March, up from 23,200 during February and up from 22,500 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%

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%

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%