Pace of job growth slows in most Arkansas metro areas

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 564 views 

Metro job gains in central Arkansas, Northwest Arkansas and the Fort Smith metro accounted for almost all of the state job gain increase in October, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Jobless rates in five of the eight metro areas within or including parts of Arkansas were up compared with October 2021, with one unchanged (central Arkansas and two (Memphis-West Memphis, and Texarkana, Texas-Ark.) posting rate declines. The largest year-over-year job growth was in Northwest Arkansas which added an estimated 9,830 jobs since October 2021.

October jobless rates ranged from 2% in Northwest Arkansas to 4.9% in the Pine Bluff metro. The federal October report is preliminary and subject to revisions.

Arkansas’ three largest metro regions – areas with most of the workforce in the state – accounted for 95.4% the state’s 17,802 year-over-year job gains in October, with the Northwest Arkansas metro accounting for 55.2% of the increase.

Central Arkansas – Little Rock, North Little Rock and Conway – had 343,868 employed in October, up 6,044 jobs, from the 337,824 in October 2021. The region’s jobless rate was 2.8% in October, unchanged compared with October 2021.

Northwest Arkansas, the state’s second largest metro area, had an estimated 292,675 jobs in October, up 9,830 jobs from the 282,845 in October 2021. The region’s jobless rate was 2% in October, above the 1.9% in October 2021.

The Fort Smith metro, Arkansas’ third largest metro, had an estimated 113,704 jobs in October, up 1,111 jobs from 112,593 in October 2021. The region’s jobless rate was 3.1% in October, up from the 2.7% in October 2021. Regional employment remains well below the peak of 124,098 in October 2006.

NATIONAL NUMBERS
Unemployment rates were lower in October than a year earlier in 264 of the 389 metro areas, higher in 94 areas, and unchanged in 31 areas, according to the BLS report. A total of 135 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 95 metropolitan areas and was essentially unchanged in 294 areas. The national unemployment rate in October was 3.4%, not seasonally adjusted, down from 4.3% a year earlier.

In October, Mankato-North Mankato, Minn., had the lowest unemployment rate at 1.3%. The next lowest rates were in Fargo, N.D.-Minn., and Rochester, Minn., at 1.4% each. Yuma, Ariz., had the highest rate at 17.9%. A total of 197 areas had October jobless rates below the U.S. rate of 3.4%, 174 areas had rates above it, and 18 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
October 2022: 298,520
October 2021: 288,371

Employment
October 2022: 292,675
October 2021: 282,845
March 2020 (pre-pandemic): 279,486

Unemployed
October 2022: 5,845
October 2021: 5,526

Jobless rate
October 2022: 2%
October 2021: 1.9%

• Fort Smith metro (Arkansas-Oklahoma)
Labor force
October 2022: 117,293
October 2021: 115,356

Employment
October 2022: 113,704
October 2021: 112,593
March 2020 (pre-pandemic): 112,650

Unemployed
October 2022: 3,589
October 2021: 3,163

Jobless rate
October 2022: 3.6%
October 2021: 2.7%

• Hot Springs
Labor force
October 2022: 40,404
October 2021: 40,277

Employment
October 2022: 38,961
October 2021: 38,935
March 2020 (pre-pandemic): 40,128

Unemployed
October 2022: 1,443
October 2021: 1,342

Jobless rate
October 2022: 3.6%
October 2021: 3.3%

• Jonesboro
Labor force
October 2022: 66,215
October 2021: 65,694

Employment
October 2022: 64,625
October 2021: 64,276
March 2020 (pre-pandemic): 64,348

Unemployed
October 2022: 1,590
October 2021: 1,418

Jobless rate
October 2022: 2.4%
October 2021: 2.2%

• Central Arkansas
Labor force
October 2022: 353,950
October 2021: 347,610

Employment
October 2022: 343,868
October 2021: 337,824
March 2020 (pre-pandemic): 343,937

Unemployed
October 2022: 10,082
October 2021: 9,786

Jobless rate
October 2022: 2.8%
October 2021: 2.8%

• Memphis/West Memphis
Labor force
October 2022: 636,296
October 2021: 638,195

Employment
October 2022: 607,891
October 2021: 607,499
March 2020 (pre-pandemic): 605,300

Unemployed
October 2022: 28,405
October 2021: 20,746

Jobless rate
October 2022: 4.5%
October 2021: 4.8%

• Pine Bluff
Labor force
October 2022: 32,530
October 2021: 32,401

Employment
October 2022: 30,943
October 2021: 30,979
March 2020 (pre-pandemic): 32,283

Unemployed
October 2022: 1,587
October 2021: 1,422

Jobless rate
October 2022: 4.9%
October 2021: 4.4%

• Texarkana (Arkansas-Texas)
Labor force
October 2022: 63,762
October 2021: 63,173

Employment
October 2022: 61,252
October 2021: 60,414
March 2020 (pre-pandemic): 60,079

Unemployed
October 2022: 2,510
October 2021: 2,759

Jobless rate
October 2022: 3.9%
October 2021: 4.4%