All Arkansas metro areas see year-over-year jobless rates improve in May

by Michael Tilley ([email protected]) 334 views 

Jobless rates in all eight metro areas within or including parts of Arkansas were down compared with May 2021, and all areas posted year-over-year job gains. The largest job growth was in Northwest Arkansas which added an estimated 14,611 since May 2021.

May jobless rates ranged from 2.2% in Northwest Arkansas to 6.4% in the Pine Bluff metro, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) posted Wednesday (June 29). The May report is preliminary and subject to revisions.

Arkansas’ three largest metro regions – areas with most of the workforce in the state – accounted for 79% the state’s 34,671 year-over-year job gains in May, with the Northwest Arkansas metro accounting for 42.14% of the increase.

Central Arkansas – Little Rock, North Little Rock and Conway – had 343,638 employed in May, up 10,589 jobs, from the 333,049 in May 2021. The region’s jobless rate was 3.1% in May, below the 4.5% in May 2020.

Northwest Arkansas, the state’s second largest metro area, had an estimated 290,186 jobs in May, up 14,611 jobs from the 275,575 in May 2021. The region’s jobless rate was 2.2% in May, below the 3.2% in May 2021.

The Fort Smith metro, Arkansas’ third largest metro, had an estimated 113,729 jobs in May, up 2,213 jobs from 111,516 in May 2021. The region’s jobless rate was 3.1% in May, below the 4.2% in May 2021. Regional employment remains well below the peak of 124,098 in June 2006.

Of the eight metro areas, the number of jobs in three (Hot Springs, central Arkansas, and Pine Bluff) remain below pre-pandemic employed in March 2020.

NATIONAL NUMBERS
Unemployment rates were lower in May than a year earlier in 385 of the 389 metro areas, higher in 2 areas, and unchanged in 2 areas. A total of 150 areas had jobless rates of less than 3% and 2 areas had rates of at least 10%.

In May, Mankato-North Mankato, Minn., and Rochester, Minn., had the lowest unemployment rates at 1.3% each. Yuma, Ariz., had the highest rate at 14.4%. A total of 216 areas had May jobless rates below the U.S. rate of 3.4%, 150 areas had rates above it, and 23 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 2022: 296,828
May 2021: 284,596

Employment
May 2022: 290,186
May 2021: 275,575
March 2020 (pre-pandemic): 279,486

Unemployed
May 2022: 6,642
May 2021: 9,021

Jobless rate
May 2022: 2.2%
May 2021: 3.2%

• Fort Smith metro (Arkansas-Oklahoma)
Labor force
May 2022: 117,360
May 2021: 116,446

Employment
May 2022: 113,729
May 2021: 111,516
March 2020 (pre-pandemic): 112,650

Unemployed
May 2022: 3,631
May 2021: 4,930

Jobless rate
May 2022: 3.1%
May 2021: 4.2%

• Hot Springs
Labor force
May 2022: 40,846
May 2021: 40,593

Employment
May 2022: 39,322
May 2021: 38,410
March 2020 (pre-pandemic): 40,128

Unemployed
May 2022: 1,524
May 2021: 2,183

Jobless rate
May 2022: 3.7%
May 2021: 5.4%

• Jonesboro
Labor force
May 2022: 66,118
May 2021: 65,024

Employment
May 2022: 64,358
May 2021: 62,626
March 2020 (pre-pandemic): 64,348

Unemployed
May 2022: 1,760
May 2021: 2,398

Jobless rate
May 2022: 2.7%
May 2021: 3.7%

• Central Arkansas
Labor force
May 2022: 354,807
May 2021: 348,848

Employment
May 2022: 343,638
May 2021: 333,049
March 2020 (pre-pandemic): 343,937

Unemployed
May 2022: 11,169
May 2021: 15,799

Jobless rate
May 2022: 3.7%
May 2021: 5.3%

• Memphis/West Memphis
Labor force
May 2022: 648,313
May 2021: 635,530

Employment
May 2022: 619,491
May 2021: 595,308
March 2020 (pre-pandemic): 605,300

Unemployed
May 2022: 28,822
May 2021: 40,222

Jobless rate
May 2022: 4.4%
May 2021: 6.3%

• Pine Bluff
Labor force
May 2022: 33,236
May 2021: 33,152

Employment
May 2022: 31,529
May 2021: 31,030
March 2020 (pre-pandemic): 32,083

Unemployed
May 2022: 1,707
May 2021: 2,122

Jobless rate
May 2022: 5.1%
May 2021: 6.4%

• Texarkana (Arkansas-Texas)
Labor force
May 2022: 63,726
May 2021: 63,383

Employment
May 2022: 61,128
May 2021: 59,921
March 2020 (pre-pandemic): 60,079

Unemployed
May 2022: 2,598
May 2021: 3,462

Jobless rate
May 2022: 4.1%
May 2021: 5.5%