Northwest Arkansas and the Jonesboro metros again set new records for employment in May, and the Texarkana (Ark.-Texas) metro area was the only metro area in or connected to Arkansas so see a month-to-month and year-over-year jobless rate rise.
In the other metro areas in or connected to Arkansas, all saw a rise in the month-to-month jobless rate and a rate decline compared to May 2016, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data.
The BLS data – subject to revision for all metro areas – showed there were 16,629 jobs created between May 2016 and May 2017 in the state’s four metro areas covered by Talk Business & Politics’ The Compass Report. Central Arkansas had 3,357 job gains, Northwest Arkansas was up an impressive 12,211 jobs, the Jonesboro metro was up 1,358 new jobs, and the Fort Smith metro posted a loss of 297 jobs. Arkansas had 19,003 job gains in the May 2016-May 2017 period, meaning that the three metro areas noted above that had job gains accounted for 87.5% of the new jobs in Arkansas.
The lowest metro jobless rate was 2.5% in Northwest Arkansas, and the highest rate was 4.5% in Texarkana.
CENTRAL ARKANSAS METRO
The central Arkansas metro area jobless rate was 3.1% in May, up from 3.2% in April and below the 3.5% in May 2016.
The size of the central Arkansas regional workforce during May was estimated at 352,514, above the 350,170 in April, and above the 350,499 in May 2016. Central Arkansas’ metro employment of 341,662 in May was above the 340,243 in April, and up 1% compared with the 338,305 during May 2016. Jobs in the metro set a record of 346,260 in July 2016.
The number of unemployed in the region totaled an estimated 10,852 during May, above the 9,827 during April, and below the 12,194 in May 2016.
NORTHWEST ARKANSAS METRO
The Northwest Arkansas metro jobless rate was 2.5% in May, above the 2.2% in April, and below the 2.9% in May 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 May was 275,375, above the 272,424 during April, and above the 263,773 in May 2016.
The number of employed in Northwest Arkansas totaled 268,391 in May, above the 266,371 in April, and up 4.76% from the 256,180 employed in May 2016. May’s job total, if not revised, marks a new record for the region. The previous record was the 266,371 employed in April.
Unemployed persons in the region totaled an estimated 6,984 during May, up from 6,053 during April, and below the 7,593 during May 2016.
FORT SMITH METRO
Fort Smith’s metro jobless rate was 4% in May, up from 3.7% in April, and lower than the 4.6% in May 2016.
The size of the Fort Smith regional workforce during May was 120,986, up from 120,207 during April, and below the 122,076 in May 2016. The labor force reached a revised high of 132,004 in June 2007, meaning the May workforce size is down 8.3% from the peak number.
The number of employed in the Fort Smith region totaled 116,103 in May, up from the 115,817 in April, but down 0.25% from the 116,400 employed in May 2016. The number of employed in the area is down 7.4% compared to the high of 125,426 in June 2006.
Unemployed persons in the region totaled an estimated 4,883 during May, down from the 4,390 during April, and below the 5,676 during May 2016.
The Jonesboro metro area jobless rate was 2.9% in May, up from 2.6% in April and below the 3.3% in May 2016. The metro jobless rate reached a record low of 2.6% in April.
The size of the Jonesboro regional workforce during May was estimated at 63,748, above the 63,397 in April, and above the 62,592 in May 2016. Jonesboro metro employment during May was 61,989, above the 61,736 in April, and above the 60,540 during May 2016. Jobs in the metro set a new record in May, with the previous record of 61,736 set in April.
The number of unemployed in the region totaled an estimated 1,850 during May, up from the 1,661 during April, and below the 2,052 during May 2016.
Unemployment rates were lower in May than a year earlier in 298 of the 388 metropolitan areas, higher in 66 areas, and unchanged in 24 areas, noted the broad BLS report. The lowest metro rate was 1.9% in Ames, Iowa, Bismarck, N.D., and Fargo, N.D., and the highest metro rate was 20.5% in El Centro, Calif.
The U.S. unemployment rate in May was 4.3%, down from 4.4% in April and down from 4.7% from a year earlier. Arkansas’ jobless rate was 3.4% in May, down from 3.5% in April and down from 4.1% in May 2016.
ARKANSAS METRO AREAS
May 2017: 2.5%
April 2017: 2.2%
May 2016: 2.9%
May 2017: 4%
April 2017: 3.7%
May 2016: 4.6%
May 2017: 3.6%
April 2017: 3.2%
May 2016: 4.2%
May 2017: 2.9%
April 2017: 2.6%
May 2016: 3.3%
Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway
May 2017: 3.1%
April 2017: 2.8%
May 2016: 3.5%
May 2017: 3.7%
April 2017: 4.2%
May 2016: 4.8%
May 2017: 4.4%
April 2017: 4.2%
May 2016: 5.3%
May 2017: 4.5%
April 2017: 4.4%
May 2016: 4%
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.