Slight gains in Fort Smith metro job numbers, tourism jobs reach new high

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 77 views 

The September labor market report for the Fort Smith area shows two consecutive months of workforce gains and rise in the number of employed. Such gains will need to continue to erase an almost 9% loss in regional jobs from an employment peak in October 2008.

Fort Smith’s metro jobless rate was 5.7% in September compared to 6.1% in August. The rate was lower than the 7.5% in September 2013, according to figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. September’s data is subject to revision in future reports from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The size of the Fort Smith regional workforce during September was 126,104, up from 125,739 during August, but below the 130,684 during September 2013. The labor force reached a revised high of 140,253 in June 2007, meaning the September workforce size is down 10% from the peak number.

The number of employed in the Fort Smith region totaled 118,911 in September, up from 118,030 in August, and an estimated 1,987 jobs below the 120,893 employed in September 2013.

All of the eight metro areas in or connected to Arkansas had jobless rate decreases in September compared to August, and all had jobless rate declines compared to September 2013. During September, the lowest metro jobless rate in the state was 4.4% in Northwest Arkansas and the highest rate was 7.9% in the Memphis-West Memphis area.

FORT SMITH METRO NUMBERS
Unemployed persons in the region totaled an estimated 7,193 during September, below the 7,709 during August, but well below the 9,791 during September 2013.

The Fort Smith area manufacturing sector employed an estimated 17,900 in September, down from 18,000 in August, and down from 18,400 to September 2013. Sector employment is down almost 37% from a decade ago when September 2004 manufacturing employment in the metro area stood at 28,400. Also, the annual average monthly employment in manufacturing has fallen from 28,900 in 2005, 19,200 in 2012, and to 18,300 in 2013.

Jobs in the Trade, Transportation and Utilities sector — the region’s largest job sector —  totaled 24,400 in September, down from 24,500 in August, and above the 23,700 during September 2013. Employment in the sector reached a high of 25,700 in December 2007.

Employment in the region’s tourism industry was 10,100 during September, up from 9,900 in August and above the 9,400 in September 2013. If not revised, the September numbers mark a new high and mark the first time the sector has employed more than 10,000.

In Education & Health Services, employment was 16,500 during September, up from 16,300 in August and below the 16,800 during September 2013. Annual average monthly employment in the sector has steadily grown since 2005 when it reached 14,000. In 2012 the average was 17,000, but fell slightly to 16,800 in 2013. Employment in the sector reached a record 17,300 in October 2012.

In the Government sector, employment was 19,200 during September, up compared to 17,800 in August and above the 19,100 in September 2013.

NATIONAL NUMBERS
Unemployment rates were lower in September than a year earlier in 339 of the 372 metropolitan areas, higher in 26 areas, and unchanged in seven areas, noted the broad BLS report.

The U.S. unemployment rate in September was 5.9%, down from 7.2% from a year earlier. Arkansas’ jobless rate was 6.2% in September, down from 6.3% in August and down from 7.7% in September 2013.

Oklahoma’s jobless rate during September was 4.7%, unchanged compared to August, and down compared to 5.6% in September 2013. The Missouri jobless rate during September was 6.3%, unchanged compared to August and below the 6.4% in September 2013.

ARKANSAS METRO AREAS
Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers
September 2014: 4.4%
August 2014: 4.9%
September 2013: 5.5%

Fort Smith
September 2014: 5.7%
August 2014: 6.1%
September 2013: 7.5%

Hot Springs
September 2014: 6.1%
August 2014: 6.4%
September 2013: 7.7%

Jonesboro
September 2014: 5.3%
August 2014: 5.7%
September 2013: 6.7%

Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway
September 2014: 5.3%
August 2014: 5.6%
September 2013: 6.6%

Memphis-West Memphis
September 2014: 7.9%
August 2014: 8.5%
September 2013: 9.2%

Pine Bluff
September 2014: 7.6%
August 2014: 8.4%
September 2013: 9.6%

Texarkana
September 2014: 5.8%
August 2014: 6.4%
September 2013: 7.4%

FORT SMITH METRO AREA HISTORY
Past annual average unemployment rates
2013: 8%
2012: 7.7%
2011: 8.3%
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%