Job numbers continue to improve in all Arkansas metro areas

by Michael Tilley ([email protected]) 475 views 

All eight metro areas within or including parts of Arkansas saw significant year-over-year jobless rate declines in November, with Northwest Arkansas posting the lowest rate at 1.5%, and the highest of 4% in Texarkana, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Arkansas’ three largest metro regions – areas with most of the workforce in the state – accounted for 80% of the state’s 49,366 year-over-year job gains in November, with the Northwest Arkansas metro contributing 44.1% of the year-over-year gains. The November report is preliminary and subject to revisions.

Central Arkansas – Little Rock, North Little Rock and Conway – had 339,719 employed in November, up 13,166 jobs, from the 326,553 in November 2020. The region’s jobless rate was 2.3% in November, below the 5.2% in November 2020.

Northwest Arkansas, the state’s second largest metro area, had an estimated 295,810 jobs in November, up 21,773 jobs from the 274,037 in November 2020. The region’s jobless rate was 1.5% in November, below the 3.5% in November 2020. The region’s labor force also was estimated at 300,200 in November, the first time above the 300,000 level.

The Fort Smith metro, Arkansas’ third largest metro, had an estimated 117,026 jobs in November, up 4,459 jobs from 112,567 in November 2020. The region’s jobless rate was 2.1% in November, below the 4.7% in November 2020. Regional employment remains well below the peak of 124,098 in June 2006.

Michael Pakko, chief economist and state economic forecaster at the Institute for Economic Advancement at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, said the Northwest Arkansas metro continues to be the star in the state’s economy.

“Employment in the Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers metro area is now nearly 4% higher than before the pandemic/recession. In the rest of the state, however, employment remains below pre-pandemic levels. Hot Springs, Little Rock and Texarkana are have employment totals that are more than 3% lower than in early 2020,” Pakko wrote in recent analysis at his Arkansas Economist website.

NATIONAL NUMBERS
Unemployment rates were lower in November than a year earlier in all 389 metro areas, according to the BLS. A total of 139 areas had jobless rates of less than 3% and two areas had rates of at least 10%.

Nonfarm payroll employment increased over the year in 100 metro areas and was essentially unchanged in 289 areas. The national unemployment rate in November was 3.9%, down from 6.4% a year earlier.

In November, Lincoln, Neb., and Logan, Utah-Idaho, had the lowest unemployment rates at 1.1% each. El Centro, Calif., had the highest rate at 15.5%. A total of 245 areas had November
jobless rates below the U.S. rate of 3.9%, 131 areas had rates above it, and 13 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
November 2021: 300,200
November 2020: 284,083

Employment
November 2021: 295,810
November 2020: 274,037

Unemployed
November 2021: 4,390
November 2020: 10,046

Jobless rate
November 2021: 1.5%
November 2020: 3.5%

• Fort Smith metro (Arkansas-Oklahoma)
Labor force
November 2021: 119,485
November 2020: 118,125

Employment
November 2021: 117,026
November 2020: 112,567

Unemployed
November 2021: 2,459
November 2020: 5,558

Jobless rate
November 2021: 2.1%
November 2020: 4.7%

• Hot Springs
Labor force
November 2021: 39,785
November 2020: 40,043

Employment
November 2021: 38,683
November 2020: 37,558

Unemployed
November 2021: 1,102
November 2020: 2,485

Jobless rate
November 2021: 2.8%
November 2020: 6.2%

• Jonesboro
Labor force
November 2021: 66,562
November 2020: 64,421

Employment
November 2021: 65,431
November 2020: 61,813

Unemployed
November 2021: 1,131
November 2020: 2,608

Jobless rate
November 2021: 1.7%
November 2020: 4%

• Central Arkansas
Labor force
November 2021: 347,727
November 2020: 344,453

Employment
November 2021: 339,719
November 2020: 326,553

Unemployed
November 2021: 8,008
November 2020: 17,900

Jobless rate
November 2021: 2.3%
November 2020: 5.2%

• Memphis/West Memphis
Labor force
November 2021: 646,227
November 2020: 649,322

Employment
November 2021: 621,056
November 2020: 604,122

Unemployed
November 2021: 25,171
November 2020: 45,200

Jobless rate
November 2021: 3.9%
November 2020: 7%

• Pine Bluff
Labor force
November 2021: 34,026
November 2020: 33,954

Employment
November 2021: 32,819
November 2020: 31,709

Unemployed
November 2021: 1,207
November 2020: 2,245

Jobless rate
November 2021: 3.5%
November 2020: 6.6%

• Texarkana (Arkansas-Texas)
Labor force
November 2021: 63,625
November 2020: 63,045

Employment
November 2021: 60,950
November 2020: 59,221

Unemployed
November 2021: 2,675
November 2020: 3,824

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