Fort Smith area jobless rate rises to 7.7%

by The City Wire staff (info@thecitywire.com) 20 views 

The combination of a 0.23% gain in the Fort Smith regional workforce number and a 5.3% increase in the number of area unemployed pushed the regional jobless rate higher in May.

May’s 7.7% jobless rate was well above the 7.2% in April, and higher than the 7.3% in May 2012, according to figures released Wednesday (July 3) by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. May was the 53rd consecutive month the Fort Smith metro jobless rate has been at or above 7%.

Seven of the eight metro areas in or connected to Arkansas had jobless rate increases in May compared to April, and jobless rate increases compared to May 2012. The Northwest Arkansas area had a rate increase compared to April, but was unchanged compared to May 2012.

During May, the lowest metro jobless rate in the state was in Northwest Arkansas with 5.6% and the highest rate was 9.6% in the Pine Bluff area.

May jobless rates were lower in 68% of the 372 U.S. metro areas and higher in 23.1% of the metro areas.

FORT SMITH METRO NUMBERS
The size of the Fort Smith regional workforce during May was 133,750, up from the 132,091 during April, and slightly above the 133,443 during May 2012. The labor force reached a high of 139,544 in June 2008.

The number of employed during May rose to 123,501, an improvement over the 122,601 in April. However, May employment was below the 123,718 in May 2012.

Following are other key figures from the BLS metro report.
• Unemployed persons in the region totaled an estimated 10,249 during May, above the 9,490 during April and the 9,725 during May 2012.

• The Fort Smith area manufacturing sector employed an estimated 18,600 in May, unchanged compared to April, and below the 19,300 during May 2012. Employment in the sector is down more than 33% from more than a decade ago when May 2003 manufacturing employment in the metro area stood at 28,000. Also, the annual average monthly employment in manufacturing has fallen from 28,900 in 2005 to 19,200 in 2012 – the first year the average has dropped below 20,000 since surpassing that level.

• Jobs in the Trade, Transportation and Utilities sector — the region’s largest job sector —  totaled 25,100 in May, up from 25,100 in April, and above the 24,000 during May 2012. Employment in the sector reached a high 25,700 in December 2007.

• Employment in the region’s tourism industry was 9,300 during May, up from 9,100 in April and more than the 9,200 in May 2012. The sector reached an employment high of 9,800 in August 2008.

• In Education & Health Services, employment was 17,700 during May, up from 17,600 in April and above the 17,100 during May 2012.

• In the Government sector, employment was 19,900 during May, up from 19,700 in April and up from the 19,800 in May 2012.

NATIONAL NUMBERS
Unemployment rates were lower in May than a year earlier in 253 of the 372 metropolitan areas, higher in 86 areas, and unchanged in 33 areas, noted the broad BLS report.

The U.S. unemployment rate in May was 7.6%, down from 8.2% in May 2012. Arkansas’ jobless rate was 7.3% in May, up from 7.2% in April and unchanged compared to May 2012.

Oklahoma’s jobless rate during May was 5%, up from 4.9% in April, and below the 5.1% during May 2012. The Missouri jobless rate during May was 6.8%, compared to 6.7% in April and 7% during May 2012.

ARKANSAS METRO AREAS
Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers
May 2013: 5.6%
April 2013: 5.1%
May 2012: 5.6%

Fort Smith
May 2013: 7.7%
April 2013: 7.2%
May 2012: 7.3%

Hot Springs
May 2013: 7.7%
April 2013: 7.2%
May 2012: 7.3%

Jonesboro
May 2013: 6.9%
April 2013: 6.5%
May 2012: 6.7%

Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway
May 2013: 6.6%
April 2013: 6.2%
May 2012: 6.4%

Memphis-West Memphis
May 2013: 9.5%
April 2013: 9%
May 2012: 8.9%

Pine Bluff
May 2013: 9.6%
April 2013: 9%
May 2012: 8.9%

Texarkana
May 2013: 7.1%
April 2013: 6.8%
May 2012: 6.7%

FORT SMITH METRO AREA HISTORY
Past annual average unemployment rates
2012: 7.7%
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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