Jobless rates fell in April compared to March for all eight metro areas in or connected to Arkansas. The Northwest Arkansas metro added an impressive 10,263 jobs year-over-year, and posted the lowest jobless rate at 2.2%.
The Northwest Arkansas metro set a new record for the number of jobs, and the Jonesboro metro set a new record for lowest jobless rate (2.6%) and number of jobs.
Metro jobless rates ranged from the 2.2% in Northwest Arkansas to a high of 4.4% in the Texarkana metro, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data.
The BLS data – subject to revision for all metro areas – showed there were 11,898 jobs created between April 2016 and April 2017 in the state’s four metro areas covered by Talk Business & Politics’ The Compass Report. Central Arkansas had 1,102 job gains, Northwest Arkansas was up 10,263 jobs, the Jonesboro metro was up 1,239 new jobs, and the Fort Smith metro posted a loss of 706 jobs. Arkansas had 9,714 job gains in the April 2016-April 2017 period.
CENTRAL ARKANSAS METRO
The central Arkansas metro area jobless rate was 2.8% in April, down from 3.2% in March and below the 3.2% in April 2016.
The size of the central Arkansas regional workforce during April was estimated at 350,055, above the 349,365 in March, and just below the 350,366 in April 2016. Central Arkansas’ metro employment of 340,234 in April was above the 338,087 in March, and up 0.32% compared with the 339,132 during April 2016. Jobs in the metro set a record of 346,260 in July.
The number of unemployed in the region totaled an estimated 9,821 during April, below the 11,278 during March, and below the 11,234 in April 2016.
NORTHWEST ARKANSAS METRO
The Northwest Arkansas metro jobless rate was 2.2% in April, below the 2.5% in March, and below the 2.6% in April 2016. The historic jobless low for the metro is 2.1%, and was last reached in November 1999.
The size of the Northwest Arkansas regional workforce during April was 272,410, above the 269,245 during March, and above the 262,936 in April 2016.
The number of employed in Northwest Arkansas totaled 266,350 in April, above the 262,405 in March, and up from the 256,087 employed in April 2016. April’s job total, if not revised, marks a new record for the region. The previous record was the 262,405 employed in March.
Unemployed persons in the region totaled an estimated 6,060 during April, down from 6,840 during March, and below the 6,849 during April 2016.
FORT SMITH METRO
Fort Smith’s metro jobless rate was 3.7% in April, down from 4% in March, and lower than the 4.4% in April 2016.
The size of the Fort Smith regional workforce during April was 119,871, down from 119,931 during March, and below the 121,475 in April 2016. The labor force reached a revised high of 132,004 in June 2007, meaning the April workforce size is down 10.1% from the peak number.
The number of employed in the Fort Smith region totaled 115,483 in April, up from the 115,076 in March, but down 0.6% from the 116,184 employed in April 2016. The number of employed in the area is down 7.92% compared to the high of 125,426 in June 2006.
Unemployed persons in the region totaled an estimated 4,388 during April, down from the 4,855 during March, and below the 5,286 during April 2016.
The Jonesboro metro area jobless rate was 2.6% in April, down from 3% in March and below the 3% in April 2016. The metro jobless rate reached a record low of 2.6% in April. The previous record was 2.9% last reached in November.
The size of the Jonesboro regional workforce during April was estimated at 63,398, above the 62,491 in March, and above the 62,375 in April 2016. Jonesboro metro employment during April was 61,734, above the 60,594 in March, and above the 60,495 during April 2016. Jobs in the metro set a new record in April, with the previous record of 61,401 set in July.
The number of unemployed in the region totaled an estimated 1,664 during April, below the 1,897 during March, and below the 1,880 during April 2016.
Unemployment rates were lower in April than a year earlier in 322 of the 388 metropolitan areas, higher in 46 areas, and unchanged in 20 areas, noted the broad BLS report. The lowest metro rate was 1.7% in Ames, Iowa, and the highest metro rate was 19.2% in El Centro, Calif.
The U.S. unemployment rate in April was 4.4%, down from 4.5% in March and down from 5% from a year earlier. Arkansas’ jobless rate was 3.5% in April, down from 3.6% in March and down from 4.1% in April 2016.
ARKANSAS METRO AREAS
April 2017: 2.2%
March 2017: 2.5%
April 2016: 2.6%
April 2017: 3.7%
March 2017: 4%
April 2016: 4.4%
April 2017: 3.2%
March 2017: 3.8%
April 2016: 3.8%
April 2017: 2.6%
March 2017: 3%
April 2016: 3%
Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway
April 2017: 2.8%
March 2017: 3.2%
April 2016: 3.2%
April 2017: 4.2%
March 2017: 5%
April 2016: 4.7%
April 2017: 4.2%
March 2017: 4.9%
April 2016: 4.9%
April 2017: 4.4%
March 2017: 4.8%
April 2016: 3.9%
Editor’s note: This story is a component of The Compass Report. The quarterly Compass Report is managed by Talk Business & Politics, and sponsored by Lowell-based Zero Mountain Logistics, a subsidiary of Fort Smith-based Zero Mountain. Supporting sponsors of The Compass Report are Cox Communications and the Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce.