Fort Smith jobless rate dips to 3.4%, but employment numbers continue to fall

by Michael Tilley (mtilley@talkbusiness.net) 382 views 

The Fort Smith metro jobless rate fell to 3.4% in November from 3.5% in October, but the number of jobs in the region continues to decline, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor figures posted Monday (Jan. 7).

Numbers posted Monday are preliminary and subject to change.

Regional employment totaled 113,337 in November, down 1% from the 114,539 in November 2017 and down slightly from 113,521 in October. The November employment is down 12,089 jobs from peak employment of 125,426 in June 2006, a drop of 9.63%.

The metro eligible labor force was 117,312 in November, down from 117,652 in October and down 1.6% from the 119,233 in November 2017.

Jobs in the Trade, Transportation and Utilities sector, the region’s largest job sector, had an estimated 22,800 jobs, up from 22,300 in October, but down from 23,000 in November 2017. The sector is off the peak of 24,700 in December 2007.

Manufacturing jobs were an estimated 17,700 in November, up from 17,400 in October and November 2017. The sector has not replaced the jobs lost from the closure of Whirlpool Corp., Tran and other manufacturing operations that have closed in recent years. Manufacturing jobs reached a high of 31,200 jobs in June 1999, a loss of 13,500 jobs, or 43.2%.

Education and Health Services jobs were 16,600 in November, down from 16,700 in October and down from 16,800 in November 2017. Tourism jobs – the leisure and hospitality sector – totaled 9,400 in November, down from 9,500 in October but just ahead of the estimated 9,300 in November 2017. Regional tourism employment hit a high of 10,100 in June 2016.

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