All Arkansas metro areas see increases in the number of unemployed in March

by Michael Tilley ([email protected]) 425 views 

All metro areas in or connected to Arkansas posted jobless rate increases in March, with year-over-year increases in the number of unemployed ranging between 44% in Jonesboro to 4.8% in the Memphis-West Memphis area.

The unemployed in the Jonesboro metro was 2,629 in March, up from 1,826 in March 2019, a 44% jump. Other large percentage increases in unemployed included central Arkansas at 41.5% (4,652 more unemployed than March 2019), Northwest Arkansas at 39.3% (2,711 more unemployed) and the Pine Bluff metro at 36.8% (650 more unemployed).

As ugly as the March report is in terms of job losses, the month does not provide a full month look at economic disruption caused by businesses closures resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is anticipated that March will be seen as a transitional month, with the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and efforts to control its spread showing up in the data for April,” noted University of Arkansas Little Rock economist Michael Pakko.

Northwest Arkansas posted the largest year-over-year job gain in the March jobs report among the eight metro areas. The region had 6,191 new jobs between March 2019 and March 2020, a rise of 2.4%. The region had 277,322 jobs in March, up from the 271,131 jobs in March 2019.

The Jonesboro metro had the largest percentage year-over-year job growth with 2.74%. The lowest jobless rate among the eight metro areas was 3.3% in Northwest Arkansas, with the Pine Bluff metro having the highest rate at 6.9%.

STATE, NATIONAL NUMBERS
The state’s jobless rate was 4.8% in March, well above the 3.5% in February and March 2019. The number of employed in Arkansas during March was an estimated 1,320,420, up 6,747 jobs compared with March 2019. The state’s labor force – the number of people eligible to work – was 1,386,748 in March, up 1.8% compared with the 1,361,942 in March 2019.

Unemployment rates were higher in March than a year earlier in 253 of the 389 metropolitan areas, lower in 123 areas, and unchanged in 13 areas. A total of 45 areas had jobless rates of less than 3% and 11 areas had rates of at least 10%. Nonfarm payroll employment increased over the year in 21 metropolitan areas, decreased in 1 area, and was essentially unchanged in the remaining 367 areas. The national unemployment rate in March was 4.5%, up from 3.9% a year earlier.

In March, Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina, Hawaii, and Urban Honolulu, Hawaii, had the lowest unemployment rates at 2.1% each, while El Centro, Calif., had the highest unemployment rate at 20.5 %.

METRO JOBS DATA
Following are labor market data for the eight metro areas.
• Northwest Arkansas
Labor force
March 2020: 286,927
March 2019: 278,115

Employment
March 2020: 277,322
March 2019: 271,131

Unemployed
March 2020: 9,605
March 2019: 6,894

Jobless rate
March 2020: 3.3%
March 2019: 2.7%

• Fort Smith metro
Labor force
March 2020: 119,035
March 2019: 118,290

Employment
March 2020: 114,076
March 2019: 114,159

Unemployed
March 2020: 4,959
March 2019: 4,131

Jobless rate
March 2020: 4.2%
March 2019: 3.5%

• Hot Springs
Labor force
March 2020: 41,870
March 2019: 41,557

Employment
March 2020: 39,867
March 2019: 40,059

Unemployed
March 2020: 2,003
March 2019: 1,498

Jobless rate
March 2020: 4.8%
March 2019: 3.6%

• Jonesboro
Labor force
March 2020: 67,744
March 2019: 65,204

Employment
March 2020: 65,115
March 2019: 63,378

Unemployed
March 2020: 2,629
March 2019: 1,826

Jobless rate
March 2020: 3.9%
March 2019: 2.8%

• Central Arkansas
Labor force
March 2020: 358,847
March 2019: 359,094

Employment
March 2020: 342,990
March 2019: 347,889

Unemployed
March 2020: 15,857
March 2019: 11,205

Jobless rate
March 2020: 4.4%
March 2019: 3.1%

• Memphis/West Memphis
Labor force
March 2020: 642,198
March 2019: 642,790

Employment
March 2020: 614,374
March 2019: 614,241

Unemployed
March 2020: 27,824
March 2019: 26,549

Jobless rate
March 2020: 4.3%
March 2019: 4.1%

• Pine Bluff
Labor force
March 2020: 35,183
March 2019: 34,899

Employment
March 2020: 32,767
March 2019: 33,074

Unemployed
March 2020: 2,416
March 2019: 1,766

Jobless rate
March 2020: 6.9%
March 2019: 5.1%

• Texarkana (Arkansas-Texas)
Labor force
March 2020: 65,685
March 2019: 65,051

Employment
March 2020: 62,154
March 2019: 62,177

Unemployed
March 2020: 3,531
March 2019: 2,874

Jobless rate
March 2020: 5.4%
March 2019: 4.4%

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