Three Arkansas metro areas post year-over-year job gains in March report

by Michael Tilley ([email protected]) 846 views 

Of the eight metro areas in or connected to Arkansas only three (Northwest Arkansas, Fort Smith and Pine Bluff) posted year-over-year job gains in March, and all areas had higher year-over-year jobless rates, according to Wednesday’s (April 28) report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The March numbers from BLS show the 11th full month COVID disruption on the state economy and are subject to revision.

Central Arkansas –Little Rock, North Little Rock and Conway – had the most year-over-year job losses of the metro areas with 8,331 fewer jobs in March compared with March 2020. The region’s jobless rate was 4.9% in March, above 4% in March 2020, and below 5.4% in February.

Job losses in central Arkansas, the Jonesboro metro and the Hot Springs metro accounted for 57.2% of the state’s 18,549 fewer jobs between March 2021 and March 2020. Of the statewide job losses, 60% were from the state’s hard-hit tourism sector, according to an April 16 BLS report.

Northwest Arkansas, the state’s second-largest metro area, had an estimated 280,271 jobs in March, up 969 jobs from the 279,302 in March 2020. The region’s jobless rate was 3.5% in March, above 2.9% in March 2020, and below 3.8% in February. The Fort Smith metro, Arkansas’ third-largest metro, had an estimated 113,387 jobs in March, up 390 jobs from 112,997 in March 2020. The region’s jobless rate was 4.8% in March, above 4% in March 2020, and below 5.6% in February.

Northwest Arkansas had the lowest metro jobless rate in March (3.5%), and the Pine Bluff area had the highest at 6.8%. The state’s jobless rate in March was 4.4%, down from 4.5% in February and below 3.8% in March 2020.

NATIONAL NUMBERS
Unemployment rates were higher in March than a year earlier in 308 of the 389 metropolitan
areas, lower in 75 areas, and unchanged in 6 areas, according to the BLS report. A total of 16 areas had jobless rates of at least 10% and 10 areas had rates of less than 3%. Nonfarm payroll employment was down year-over-year in 159 metro areas, up in 3 areas, and was essentially unchanged in 227 areas.

El Centro, Calif., had the highest March unemployment rate of 15.7%, and Logan, Utah-Idaho, had the lowest rate at 2.1%. A total of 245 areas had March jobless rates below the U.S. rate of 6.2%, 138 areas had rates above it, and 6 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
March 2021: 290,382
March 2020: 287,777

Employment
March 2021: 280,271
March 2020: 279,302

Unemployed
March 2021: 10,111
March 2020: 8,457

Jobless rate
March 2021: 3.5%
March 2020: 2.9%

• Fort Smith metro
Labor force
March 2021: 119,157
March 2020: 117,737

Employment
March 2021: 113,387
March 2020: 112,997

Unemployed
March 2021: 5,770
March 2020: 4,740

Jobless rate
March 2021: 4.8%
March 2020: 4%

• Hot Springs
Labor force
March 2021: 41,373
March 2020: 41,923

Employment
March 2021: 38,854
March 2020: 40,163

Unemployed
March 2021: 2,519
March 2020: 1,760

Jobless rate
March 2021: 6.1%
March 2020: 4.2%

• Jonesboro
Labor force
March 2021: 66,055
March 2020: 66,660

Employment
March 2021: 63,383
March 2020: 64,360

Unemployed
March 2021: 2,672
March 2020: 2,300

Jobless rate
March 2021: 4%
March 2020: 3.5%

• Central Arkansas
Labor force
March 2021: 353,202
March 2020: 358,344

Employment
March 2021: 335,805
March 2020: 344,36

Unemployed
March 2021: 17,397
March 2020: 14,208

Jobless rate
March 2021: 4.9%
March 2020: 4%

• Memphis/West Memphis
Labor force
March 2021: 641,448
March 2020: 636,440

Employment
March 2021: 600,742
March 2020: 604,469

Unemployed
March 2021: 40,706
March 2020: 31,971

Jobless rate
March 2021: 6.3%
March 2020: 5%

• Pine Bluff
Labor force
March 2021: 35,025
March 2020: 34,458

Employment
March 2021: 32,646
March 2020: 32,348

Unemployed
March 2021: 2,379
March 2020: 2,110

Jobless rate
March 2021: 6.8%
March 2020: 6.1%

• Texarkana (Arkansas-Texas)
Labor force
March 2021: 63,564
March 2020: 63,986

Employment
March 2021: 59,357
March 2020: 60,551

Unemployed
March 2021: 4,207
March 2020: 3,435

Jobless rate
March 2021: 6.6%
March 2020: 5.4%

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