Fort Smith area jobless rate drops to 5.4% in August, jobs up year-over-year

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 41 views 

The number of employed in the Fort Smith metro during August took a slight dip compared to July, but was up almost 2% compared to August 2014. Also, the number of unemployed fell by more than 500 in the year-over-year comparison.

Fort Smith’s metro jobless rate was 5.4% in August, down from 6% in July, and lower than the 5.9% in August 2014, according to figures posted Wednesday (Sept. 30) by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. August’s data is subject to revision.

The number of employed in the Fort Smith region totaled 114,347 in August, down from 115,101 in July, and up an estimated 2,188 jobs compared to the 112,159 employed in August 2014. The July number was the first time employed topped the 115,000 mark since July 2012. The number of employed in the metro area is down 8.83% compared to the revised high of 125,426 in June 2006 – or 11,079 fewer jobs than the peak metro employment. Metro area employment averaged 111,588 in 2014, below the average of 122,993 in 2006.

The size of the Fort Smith regional workforce during August was 120,899, down from 122,406 during July, and better than the 119,240 during August 2014. The labor force reached a revised high of 132,004 in June 2007, meaning the August workforce size is down 8.4% from the peak number.

All of the eight metro areas in or connected to Arkansas had jobless rate declines in August compared to August 2014, and all eight had jobless rate decreases compared to July. During August, the lowest metro jobless rate in the state was 3.6% in Northwest Arkansas and the highest rate was 7.5% in the Pine Bluff area.

FORT SMITH METRO NUMBERS
Unemployed persons in the region totaled an estimated 6,552 during August, down from 7,305 during July, and below the 7,081 during August 2014.

Jobs in the Trade, Transportation and Utilities sector — the region’s largest job sector —  totaled 23,300 in August, down from 23,500 in July, and below the 23,400 during August 2014. Employment in the sector reached a high of 24,700 in December 2007.

The Fort Smith area manufacturing sector employed an estimated 17,900 in August, down from a revised 18,100 in July, and below the 18,200 in August 2014. Sector employment is down 35.8% from a decade ago when August 2005 manufacturing employment in the metro area stood at 27,900. Annual average monthly employment in manufacturing has fallen from 27,900 in 2005, 20,700 in 2010, and to 18,100 in 2014.

Employment in the region’s tourism industry was 8,700 during August, unchanged compared to July and below the 9,300 in August 2014. The sector reached an employment high of 9,300 in May and August of 2014. Annual average employment of 9,100 in 2014 was a new record for the metro sector.

In Education & Health Services, employment was 16,200 during August, up from 16,100 in July and down from 16,400 in August 2014. Employment in the sector reached a record 16,700 in October and December of 2012.

In the Government sector, employment was 16,700 during August, up from 15,500 in July and unchanged compared to August 2014.

NATIONAL NUMBERS
Unemployment rates were lower in August than a year earlier in 365 of the 387 U.S. metro areas, higher in 16 areas, and unchanged in six, noted the broad BLS report.

The U.S. unemployment rate in August was 5.1%, down from 5.3% in July and down from 6.1% from a year earlier. Arkansas’ jobless rate was 5.4% in August, down from 5.6% in July and down from 5.9% in August 2014.

ARKANSAS METRO AREAS
Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers
August 2015: 3.6%
July 2015: 4.3%
August 2014: 4.6%

Fort Smith
August 2015: 5.4%
July 2015: 6%
August 2014: 5.9%

Hot Springs
August 2015: 5.2%
July 2015: 6%
August 2014: 6.2%

Jonesboro
August 2015: 4.4%
July 2015: 5.2%
August 2014: 5.5%

Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway
August 2015: 4.4%
July 2015: 5.1%
August 2014: 5.4%

Memphis-West Memphis
August 2015: 6.4%
July 2015: 7%
August 2014: 8%

Pine Bluff
August 2015: 7.5%
July 2015: 8.4%
August 2014: 8.3%

Texarkana
August 2015: 4.9%
July 2015: 5.5%
August 2014: 6.4%

FORT SMITH METRO AREA HISTORY
Past annual average unemployment rates
2014: 6.2%
2013: 8%
2012: 8.1%
2011: 8.8%
2010: 8.5%
2009: 8.3%
2008: 5.1%
2007: 5.2%
2006: 4.8%
2005: 4.6%
2004: 5.2%
2003: 5.6%
2002: 5%
2001: 4.4%
2000: 3.7%