Arkansas metro job numbers improve in May report

by Michael Tilley ([email protected]) 413 views 

The May jobless rate was lower than April in all of the eight metro areas in or connected to Arkansas, but the rate in all regions remained well above the May 2019 rate. The Hot Springs metro posted a May jobless rate of 13.6%, the highest among the eight metro areas.

Arkansas’ three largest in-state metro regions – central Arkansas, Fort Smith metro, and Northwest Arkansas – combined for 53,926 job losses in May.

The May numbers posted Wednesday (July 1) from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show the second full month of COVID-19 disruption on the state economy. The number of unemployed in the central Arkansas metro was 35,796 in May, up from the 10,789 in May 2019, but down from the 37,496 unemployed in April. The region’s jobless rate was 10.1% in May, well above the 3% in May 2019, but better than the 10.9% in April.

Northwest Arkansas had 19,707 unemployed in May, up from the 6,717 in May 2019 but down from the 21,654 in April. The region’s jobless rate was 7.1%, up from 2.4% in May 2019 and down from 8.1% in April. The Fort Smith metro had 13,644 unemployed in May, up from the 4,016 in May 2019, and also up from the 13,582 in April. The Fort Smith metro jobless rate was 10.9%, up from 3.9% in May 2019, and down from 12.8% in April.

The Fort Smith and Pine Bluff metro areas were the only two among the eight to have higher unemployed numbers in May compared to April.

University of Arkansas Little Rock economist Michael Pakko said the May figures follow revisions in the April data.

“The preliminary numbers for April had originally shown that all of the metro areas contracted as much or more than the statewide average, suggesting that non-metro areas in the state fared better than average,” Pakko noted in his analysis of the federal data. “After revisions, there is more variation among the metros. Employment totals for Fort Smith, Jonesboro, Pine Bluff and Texarkana were revised to show smaller losses April, while the magnitude of the statewide decline was revised from -8.0% to -8.6%. The preliminary numbers for May show rebounds in all metro areas, with the size of the rebound generally related to the size of the April decline.”

NATIONAL NUMBERS
Unemployment rates were higher in May than a year earlier in all 389 U.S. metro areas. A total of 109 areas had jobless rates of less than 10% and 16 areas had rates of at least 20%. The national unemployment rate in May was 13%, up from 3.4% a year earlier.

Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina, Hawaii, had the highest jobless rate in May at 33.4%, followed by Atlantic City-Hammonton, N.J., at 32.4%. Logan, Utah-Idaho, had the lowest rate, at 4.8%. The next lowest rates were in Lincoln, Neb., and Idaho Falls, Idaho, at 5% and 5.5%, respectively. A total of 245 areas had May jobless rates below the U.S. rate of 13%, 142 areas had rates above it, and 2 areas had rates equal to that of the nation.

METRO JOBS DATA
Following are labor market data for the eight metro areas.
• Northwest Arkansas
Labor force
May 2020: 277,239
May 2019: 279,152

Employment
May 2020: 257,532
May 2019: 272,435

Unemployed
May 2020: 19,707
May 2019: 6,717

Jobless rate
May 2020: 7.1%
May 2019: 2.4%

• Fort Smith metro
Labor force
May 2020: 119,115
May 2019: 119,110

Employment
May 2020: 105,471
May 2019: 115,094

Unemployed
May 2020: 13,644
May 2019: 4,016

Jobless rate
May 2020: 11.5%
May 2019: 3.4%

• Hot Springs
Labor force
May 2020: 41,696
May 2019: 41,357

Employment
May 2020: 36,040
May 2019: 39,946

Unemployed
May 2020: 5,655
May 2019: 1,411

Jobless rate
May 2020: 13.6%
May 2019: 3.4%

• Jonesboro
Labor force
May 2020: 66,056
May 2019: 65,628

Employment
May 2020: 60,485
May 2019: 63,775

Unemployed
May 2020: 5,571
May 2019: 1,853

Jobless rate
May 2020: 8.4%
May 2019: 2.8%

• Central Arkansas
Labor force
May 2020: 354,556
May 2019: 358,949

Employment
May 2020: 318,760
May 2019: 348,160

Unemployed
May 2020: 35,796
May 2019: 10,789

Jobless rate
May 2020: 10.1%
May 2019: 3%

• Memphis/West Memphis
Labor force
May 2020: 624,801
May 2019: 6404,084

Employment
May 2020: 556,966
May 2019: 618,950

Unemployed
May 2020: 67,835
May 2019: 25,134

Jobless rate
May 2020: 10.9%
May 2019: 3.9%

• Pine Bluff
Labor force
May 2020: 34,878
May 2019: 34,899

Employment
May 2020: 31,427
May 2019: 33,092

Unemployed
May 2020: 3,451
May 2019: 1,807

Jobless rate
May 2020: 9.9%
May 2019: 5.2%

• Texarkana (Arkansas-Texas)
Labor force
May 2020: 63,351
May 2019: 65,169

Employment
May 2020: 56,638
May 2019: 62,659

Unemployed
May 2020: 6,713
May 2019: 2,510

Jobless rate
May 2020: 10.6%
May 2019: 3.9%

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