All Arkansas metros post job gains, jobless rate declines in May report

by Michael Tilley ([email protected]) 954 views 

What a difference a year makes. Arkansas’ three largest metro areas – the areas with most of the workforce in the state – had 48,716 more employed in May compared with the May 2020 pandemic depressed economy. Northwest Arkansas jobs rose 9.1%, the biggest gain of the three.

Job gains in the three metros represented 79.3% of the statewide increase of 61,414 jobs in May 2021. All eight metro areas in or connected to Arkansas posted job gains in the May report.

Central Arkansas – Little Rock, North Little Rock and Conway – had 339,496 employed in May, up 5.3%, or 16,951 jobs, from the 322,545 in May 2020. The region’s jobless rate was 6.3% in May, below the 9.9% in May 2020.

Northwest Arkansas, the state’s second-largest metro area, had an estimated 285,823 jobs in May, up 23,758 jobs from the 262,065 in May 2020. The region’s jobless rate was 3.2% in May, below the 6.6% in May 2020.

The Fort Smith metro, Arkansas’ third-largest metro, had an estimated 115,325 jobs in May, up 8,007 jobs from 107,318 in May 2020. The region’s jobless rate was 4% in May, below the 10% in May 2020.

Northwest Arkansas had the lowest metro jobless rate in May (3.2%), and the Pine Bluff area and Memphis-West Memphis had the highest rates at 6.3%. The state’s jobless rate in May was 4.4%, unchanged from April and below the 8.5% in May 2020.

NATIONAL NUMBERS
Unemployment rates were lower in May than a year earlier in all 389 metropolitan areas. A total of 27 areas had jobless rates of less than 3% and 6 areas had rates of at least 10%. Nonfarm payroll employment increased over the year in 275 metropolitan areas and was essentially unchanged in 114 areas. The national unemployment rate in May was 5.5%, down from 13% a year earlier.

Burlington-South Burlington, Vt., had the lowest unemployment rate, 1.2%, followed by Manchester, N.H., at 1.4%. Yuma, Ariz., had the highest rate at 17%. A total of 247 areas had May jobless rates below the U.S. rate of 5.5%, 131 areas had rates above it, and 11 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 2021: 295,181
May 2020: 280,589

Employment
May 2021: 285,823
May 2020: 262,065

Unemployed
May 2021: 9,358
May 2020: 18,524

Jobless rate
May 2021: 3.2%
May 2020: 6.6%

• Fort Smith metro (Arkansas-Oklahoma)
Labor force
May 2021: 120,151
May 2020: 119,229

Employment
May 2021: 115,325
May 2020: 107,318

Unemployed
May 2021: 4,826
May 2020: 11,911

Jobless rate
May 2021: 4%
May 2020: 10%

• Hot Springs
Labor force
May 2021: 42,047
May 2020: 41,547

Employment
May 2021: 39,751
May 2020: 36,250

Unemployed
May 2021: 2,296
May 2020: 5,297

Jobless rate
May 2021: 5.5%
May 2020: 7.9%

• Jonesboro
Labor force
May 2021: 66,955
May 2020: 65,688

Employment
May 2021: 64,483
May 2020: 60,483

Unemployed
May 2021: 2,472
May 2020: 5,205

Jobless rate
May 2021: 3.7%
May 2020: 7.9%

• Central Arkansas
Labor force
May 2021: 355,879
May 2020: 356,620

Employment
May 2021: 339,496
May 2020: 322,545

Unemployed
May 2021: 16,383
May 2020: 34,075

Jobless rate
May 2021: 4.6%
May 2020: 9.6%

• Memphis/West Memphis
Labor force
May 2021: 652,391
May 2020: 613,896

Employment
May 2021: 611,392
May 2020: 552,937

Unemployed
May 2021: 40,999
May 2020: 60,959

Jobless rate
May 2021: 6.3%
May 2020: 9.9%

• Pine Bluff
Labor force
May 2021: 34,835
May 2020: 34,433

Employment
May 2021: 32,623
May 2020: 31,176

Unemployed
May 2021: 2,212
May 2020: 3,257

Jobless rate
May 2021: 6.3%
May 2020: 9.5%

• Texarkana (Arkansas-Texas)
Labor force
May 2021: 64,340
May 2020: 62,095

Employment
May 2021: 60,700
May 2020: 55,821

Unemployed
May 2021: 3,640
May 2020: 6,274

Jobless rate
May 2021: 5.7%
May 2020: 10.1%

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