Arkansas metro jobless rates rise in June, but year-over-year job numbers up

by Michael Tilley ([email protected]) 659 views 

Jobless rates in all eight metro areas within or including parts of Arkansas were up compared with June 2021, but all areas posted year-over-year job gains. The largest job growth was in Northwest Arkansas which added an estimated 16,084 jobs since June 2021.

June jobless rates ranged from 2.8% in Northwest Arkansas to 5.8% in the Pine Bluff metro, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The June report is preliminary and subject to revisions. Arkansas’ jobless rate in June was 3.2%.

Arkansas’ three largest metro regions – areas with most of the workforce in the state – accounted for 83.4% the state’s 35,117 year-over-year job gains in June, with the Northwest Arkansas metro accounting for 45.8% of the increase.

Central Arkansas – Little Rock, North Little Rock and Conway – had 345,679 employed in June, up 10,398 jobs, from the 335,281 in June 2021. The region’s jobless rate was 3.7% in June, below the 4.1% in June 2021, but above the 3.2% in May.

Northwest Arkansas, the state’s second largest metro area, had an estimated 291,748 jobs in June, up 16,084 jobs from the 275,664 in June 2021. The region’s jobless rate was 2.8% in June, below the 3.6% in June 2021, but above the 2.2% in May. The region’s labor force also topped 300,000 for the first time, but just barely at 300,001.

The Fort Smith metro, Arkansas’ third largest metro, had an estimated 114,485 jobs in June, up 2,816 jobs from 111,669 in June 2021. The region’s jobless rate was 3.8% in June, below the 4.8% in June 2021, and above the 3.1% in May. Regional employment remains well below the peak of 124,098 in June 2006.

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

A Thursday (Aug. 4) report from WalletHub showed that as of July 25 new unemployment claims in Arkansas were 19.58% lower than in the previous week. Weekly unemployment claims in Arkansas were 23.09% lower than in the same week last year, and were 6.82% lower than in the same week pre-pandemic (2019). The report also showed 98 unemployment insurance initial claims per 100,000 people in Arkansas’ labor force.

NATIONAL NUMBERS
Unemployment rates were lower in June than a year earlier in 388 of the 389 metro areas and higher in 1 area. A total of 78 areas had jobless rates of less than 3% and 2 areas had rates of at least 10%. Nonfarm payroll employment increased over the year in 129 metropolitan areas and was essentially unchanged in 260 areas. The U.S. unemployment rate in June was 3.8%, not seasonally adjusted, down from 6.1% a year earlier.

In June, Portsmouth, N.H.-Maine, had the lowest unemployment rate at 1.8%, while Yuma, Ariz., had the highest rate at 17.2%. A total of 189 areas had June jobless rates below the U.S. rate of 3.8%, 185 areas had rates above it, and 15 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
June 2022: 300,001
June 2021: 285,883

Employment
June 2022: 291,748
June 2021: 275,664
March 2020 (pre-pandemic): 279,486

Unemployed
June 2022: 8,253
June 2021: 10,219

Jobless rate
June 2022: 2.8%
June 2021: 3.6%

• Fort Smith metro (Arkansas-Oklahoma)
Labor force
June 2022: 118,965
June 2021: 117,255

Employment
June 2022: 114,485
June 2021: 111,669
March 2020 (pre-pandemic): 112,650

Unemployed
June 2022: 4,480
June 2021: 5,586

Jobless rate
June 2022: 3.8%
June 2021: 4.8%

• Hot Springs
Labor force
June 2022: 41,912
June 2021: 41,223

Employment
June 2022: 40,072
June 2021: 38,825
March 2020 (pre-pandemic): 40,128

Unemployed
June 2022: 1,880
June 2021: 2,398

Jobless rate
June 2022: 4.5%
June 2021: 5.8%

• Jonesboro
Labor force
June 2022: 67,157
June 2021: 65,024

Employment
June 2022: 64,936
June 2021: 62,756
March 2020 (pre-pandemic): 64,348

Unemployed
June 2022: 2,221
June 2021: 2,670

Jobless rate
June 2022: 3.3%
June 2021: 4.1%

• Central Arkansas
Labor force
June 2022: 358,940
June 2021: 352,638

Employment
June 2022: 345,679
June 2021: 335,281
March 2020 (pre-pandemic): 343,937

Unemployed
June 2022: 13,261
June 2021: 17,357

Jobless rate
June 2022: 3.7%
June 2021: 4.9%

• Memphis/West Memphis
Labor force
June 2022: 654,182
June 2021: 645,157

Employment
June 2022: 618,212
June 2021: 596,210
March 2020 (pre-pandemic): 605,300

Unemployed
June 2022: 35,970
June 2021: 48,497

Jobless rate
June 2022: 5.5%
June 2021: 7.6%

• Pine Bluff
Labor force
June 2022: 33,831
June 2021: 33,516

Employment
June 2022: 31,885
June 2021: 31,185
March 2020 (pre-pandemic): 32,083

Unemployed
June 2022: 1,946
June 2021: 2,331

Jobless rate
June 2022: 5.8%
June 2021: 7%

• Texarkana (Arkansas-Texas)
Labor force
June 2022: 64,559
June 2021: 63,847

Employment
June 2022: 61,558
June 2021: 59,932
March 2020 (pre-pandemic): 60,079

Unemployed
June 2022: 3,001
June 2021: 3,915

Jobless rate
June 2022: 4.6%
June 2021: 6.1%