Northwest Arkansas jobless rate falls to 3.6% in August, jobs up more than 4%

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 38 views 

The Northwest Arkansas job market in August fell back compared to July, but continues to show healthy year-over-year gains, with the number of employed up more than 4%.

The jobless rate in the metro area during August was 3.6%, down from 4.3% in July and below the 4.6% 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 area jobless rate has been at or below 6% for 24 consecutive months, and below 5% the previous 17 months.

Metro employment during August of 239,898 was below the 241,213 in July, and up 9,942 jobs, or 4.32%, compared to the 229,956 in August 2014. The size of the Northwest Arkansas regional workforce during August was estimated at 248,901, down from the 252,145 in July, but well above the the 241,083 in August 2014.

The regional economy has more than fully recovered from the Great Recession. The Northwest Arkansas annual employment average in 2006, the year before the recession, was 218,779.

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.

NWA METRO NUMBERS
Following are other key figures from the BLS metro report.

Unemployed persons in the region totaled 9,003 during August, down from the 10,932 during July and below the 11,127 during August 2014.

Jobs in the Trade, Transportation and Utilities sector — the region’s largest job sector —  totaled 51,500 in August, down from 51,600 in July, and up from the 50,800 in August 2014. The sector hit record employment of 52,400 in December 2014.

The Northwest Arkansas manufacturing sector employed an estimated 27,200 in August, down from 27,300 in July, and below the 27,400 during August 2014. Sector employment is down 19% from a decade ago when August 2005 manufacturing employment in the metro area stood at 33,600. Average annual employment in the sector hit a high of 35,900 in 2000.

Employment in the region’s tourism industry was 23,500 during August, up from 22,900 in July and better than the 22,400 in August 2014. August employment, if not revised, marks a new high for the category. Employment in the regional sector is up more than 47.79% compared to the 16,000 employed in August 2005.

In Education & Health Services, employment was 25,100 during August, up from 24,700 in July and up from 24,200 during August 2014. April, May and August employment are records for the category. The annual average employment of 24,400 during 2014 also was a record for the metro area.

In the Government sector, employment was 30,200 during August, up from 29,300 in July and up compared to 29,300 during August 2014. The sector hit an employment high of 33,600 in November 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%

NORTHWEST ARKANSAS METRO AREA HISTORY
Past annual average unemployment rates
2014: 4.6%
2013: 5.6%
2012: 5.9%
2011: 6.5%
2010: 6.7%
2009: 6.4%
2008: 4.2%
2007: 3.8%
2006: 3.5%
2005: 3.4%
2004: 3.8%
2003: 3.8%
2002: 3.4%
2001: 3.1%
2000: 3.4%