A forum for information and analysis on the Arkansas economy

Metro Area Employment and Unemployment – November 2021

The most recent report on metro area employment and unemployment showed that the strong state-level employment reports for October and November were reflected in all regions of the state.  As previously reported, the state’s unemployment rate declined sharply in November, falling by 0.3% to 3.4%.  All eight of the metro areas with portions in Arkansas saw similar declines for the month.  With the most recent declines, five metro areas now have unemployment rates equal to or lower than the rates that prevailed in the pre-pandemic month of February 2020.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Smoothed Seasonally Adjusted Metropolitan Area Estimates

Payroll Employment
Changes in nonfarm payroll employment were more mixed, with sharp increases in Northwest Arkansas, Memphis, Pine Bluff and Texarkana.  Employment  was unchanged for the month in Little Rock and Fort Smith, and declined in Hot Springs and Jonesboro.  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.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics (CES)

As shown in the figure below, the spread in unemployment rates among Arkansas metro areas continues to reflect the relative impact of the Covid-19 Recession.  Metro areas that were among the hardest hit, including Hot Springs, Little Rock and Texarkana remain at the low end of employment growth.  Pine Bluff and Fort Smith, which lost relatively fewer jobs during the recession, are faring relatively well.  As usual, Northwest Arkansas is something of an outlier, with post-pandemic growth rates far exceeding the rest of the state.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics (CES)

 

 

 

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Arkansas Personal Income – 2021:Q3

The latest report on state-level personal income, released yesterday by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, shows that personal incomes in Arkansas increased at a 2.9% annual rate in the third quarter, following a revised second quarter decline of 26.9%.  [The second quarter decline was originally reported as 29.8%.]

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

Arkansas growth rate was slightly higher than the national growth rate of 2.6%, and ranked 17th among the 50 states.  Second quarter growth rates ranged from -4.3% in North Dakota to 6.7% in Kentucky.

The report from the BEA noted that, in general “increases in earnings and property income (dividends, interest, and rent) more than offset a decrease in transfer receipts.”  The report also notes that states with the highest growth rates had the highest growth rates in earnings, while those with the slowest growth rates were slowed most by the nationwide decline in transfer payments.

For Arkansas, annualized earnings growth was 8.8%, accounting for 5.2 percentage points of total personal income growth.  The most significant component of earnings growth came from Wages and Salaries, which grew at a 10.8% annual rate.  Transfer Receipts declined, but that component had a smaller negative impact on personal income growth than it did in nationwide.

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

Cumulatively, the annualized growth of total Personal Income less Transfer Receipts over the past two years has been at 4.4% for Arkansas and 4.3% for the U.S.

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

A breakdown the components of earnings by sector shows that gains were widespread.  The only sectors showing declines were Construction and Military.  Farm income contributed positively to income growth in Arkansas, despite a nationwide decline.

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

 

 

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Arkansas Employment and Unemployment – November 2021

The November report on state labor market data showed another strong month for Arkansas.  The unemployment rate dropped by another 0.3 percentage points and payroll employment continued its trend of rapid expansion.

The headline was another drop in the Arkansas unemployment rate from 3.7% in October to 3.4% in November.  The national unemployment rate had previously been reported as falling by 0.4 percentage points in November, but Arkansas’ rate remains 0.8 percentage points lower.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

The underlying data from the household survey showed the number of employed increased by 4,764 and the number of unemployed falling by more than 4,181.  The number of unemployed for the month, 46,351, was the lowest total in the series history (dating back to 1976).  With the change in employment increasing slightly more than the decline in unemployment, the labor force expanded slightly (+583).

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS)

Meanwhile, the potential labor force (defined as the civilian non-institutional population age 16 and over) continues to grow.  Hence, Arkansas’ labor force participation rate continues to languish at 57.0%, down 1.3 percentage points from early 2020.  The labor force participation rate for the U.S. stood at 59.2% in November, down 1.9 percentage points since February 2020.

Payroll Employment
Nonfarm payroll employment expanded by 3,300 jobs in November (seasonally adjusted).  Employment in goods-producing sectors was down slightly, with the exception of a slight improvement in nondurable goods employment.  In service-providing sectors, gains were prominent in Professional & Business Services (particularly in Administrative & Support Services), Health Care & Social Assistance, Financial Activities, and Transportation & Utilities.  Sectors showing declines included Construction, Retail Trade Accommodation & Food Service, and Other Services.  (For more detail, see PDF.)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics (CES)

In October and November alone, payroll employment expanded by more than 10,000 jobs, or 0.8%.  Over the past 12 months, the increase of nearly 28,000 jobs amounts to a growth rate of 2.2%.  Compared to the pre-recession month of February 2020, Arkansas payroll employment is down by 15,000 jobs or 0.9%.  Nationally, payroll employment remains 2.6% lower than in February 2020.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics (CES)

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Seasonally adjusted data for Arkansas nonfarm payroll employment, reported in a format consistent with the monthly news release from the Arkansas Division of Workforce Services, can be found here: Table-Seasonally Adjusted NFPE. 

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Arkansas’ New 15.5% Top Income Tax Rate

The Arkansas legislature adopted major income tax legislation this week, with the accomplished goal of lowering the marginal tax rate on high incomes from 5.9% in 2021 to 5.5% in 2022, with further reductions scheduled for subsequent years that would reduce the top marginal tax rate to 4.9% in 2025.

But one quirky feature of the Arkansas tax code results in an anomalous income bracket for which the effective marginal tax rate is actually 15.5%.  Moreover, over this particular income range, the tax code contains over 60 “tax cliffs” in which small increases in pre-tax income can result tax hikes that actually reduce after-tax income.

The reason for this anomaly is Arkansas’ dual tax table arrangement, where incomes up to a certain threshold are subject to one table, while there is a completely different tax table that applies to incomes above that threshold.

Typically, a progressive income tax increases the marginal tax rate (the tax on the next dollar), in uniformly increasing steps.  The result is a relatively smooth, increasing profile for average tax rates (taxes paid/taxable income).  An example is shown in Figure 1, which shows the marginal and average tax rates in the new legislation for incomes up to $84,500.

Figure 1:

But Arkansas’ dual tax-table system includes a more significant break, where the entire tax table changes for incomes above a certain threshold.  In the new legislation, this break-point is $84,500.

Nominally, the tax tables in the new tax code specify that for incomes above $84,500 the marginal tax rates are 2% on the first $4,300 of income, 4% on income between $4,301 and $8,500, and 5.5% for incomes above that.  But this is just silly.  If the tax table only applies to incomes above $84,500, it doesn’t matter what the marginal rates are below that threshold.  It would be more straightforward, and numerically equivalent, to say that the marginal tax rate is 5.247% on every dollar up to taxable income of $84,500 ($4,434) plus 5.5% above that level.

But however it is described, this presents a problem.  The tax for an income level of $84,501 turns out to be $620 higher than it would be if the lower income table was used. That would be an effective marginal tax rate of over 60000% for that 84,501st dollar of income.

That’s what is known as a “tax cliff.” When statutory thresholds become significant enough that people might change their economic behavior (or at last their tax-reporting behavior) to account for quirks in the tax system, then resources are likely being spent inefficiently.  Here at the Arkansas Economist, we pointed out the problem with tax cliffs when the multiple tax-table system was first introduced in 2015.

The Arkansas legislature’s solution to this problem in 2021 has been to introduce over 60 little tax cliffs to the mix.  The new system of “Bracket Adjustments” specifies that anyone with a taxable income of $84,501 to $84,600 is entitled to a tax-reduction of $620.  For each $100 beyond that, the bracket adjustment is reduced by $10, until it reaches zero for incomes above $90,600.

Figure 2 illustrates the multiple tax cliffs in the new legislation, showing the stair-step nature of the bracket adjustment effect on average tax rates.

Figure 2:

At each of these mini tax cliffs, the marginal tax rate approaches infinity as we narrow the definition of “marginal.”  A one dollar increase in income that raises tax burden by $10 can be described as a marginal tax rate of 1000%.  Decreasing the granularity of the calculation, an income increase of $100 over the bracket-adjustment range results in an increase in tax obligation of $10 plus the 5.5% statutory marginal tax rate—a total marginal tax rate of 15.5%.

Figure 3 puts the two tax tables and bracket adjustments together to show the average tax rates and effective marginal tax rates over income ranges from $0 to $120,000.  The marginal tax rate in Figure 3 is calculated as the increase in tax burden for each $100 increase in income.  The result is an effective marginal tax rate of 15.5% over the bracket adjustment range.

Figure 3:
*Marginal Tax Rate as calculated in $100 increments.

So, under the assumption that $100 increments are an appropriate measure of “marginal” that matters to taxpayers (at least those in the bracket-adjustment range), we might expect people to take measures to avoid the 15.5% marginal tax burden.  Those efforts represent the efficiency loss of the tax system’s complexity.

To further illustrate the point, let us consider a tax system that is roughly equivalent to the newly adopted regime, but one that eliminates the tax cliffs.  The calculations underlying Figure 3 provide guidance for how to construct such a system.  Taking the marginal tax rates from the lower-income tax table, extending the table to impose a 15.5% explicit marginal rate on incomes between $84,500 and $90,700, with a return to the 5.5% marginal rate for incomes above $90,700, we can reconstruct an average tax profile that is virtually indistinguishable from the one shown in Figure 3.

Zooming in on the bracket-adjustment range shows how this hypothetical unified tax table eliminates the stair-step nature of the tax cliffs while retaining the ramping-up of average tax rates—revealing the relevance of this near-observationally equivalent representation of the newly-adopted tax code.

Figure 4:

So, in a very real sense, the new tax code includes a 15.5% effective marginal rate over a specific range on incomes.

But does this all matter?  When it comes to a static analysis government revenue, the relevant measure is how the average tax rate schedule and the population income profile overlap. That is also true when it comes to the tax burden on individuals.  But when it comes to economic decision-making, marginal calculations matter  To the extent that the tax-cliffs and brackets with high effective marginal rates affect taxpayer behavior, a static revenue projection might be overstated relative to a dynamic analysis that takes tax-avoidance behavior into account.  Ultimately, whether the effect is quantitatively significant or not is an empirical question.

 

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Metro Area Employment & Unemployment – October 2021

Today’s report on metro area employment showed that the positive developments seen in the state-level report carried over to all of Arkansas’ metro areas.  Unemployment declined and payroll employment expanded.

The statewide unemployment rate had previously been reported as declining by a remarkable 0.3 percentage points to 3.7%.  Unemployment rates in all eight of Arkansas’ metro areas reflected the lower unemployment, with rates falling by 0.2 to 0.4 percentage points.  Rates are considerably lower than a year ago, and are generally near pre-pandemic levels.  Unemployment rates are lower than in February 2020 in Texarkana, Fort Smith, and the Fayetteville MSA.  Memphis, Texarkana and Little Rock continue to experience higher unemployment rates than before the economic downturn, but even in those metro areas rates are elevated by less than a percentage point.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Smoothed Metropolitan Area Estimates

News from the payroll survey was similarly upbeat: employment increased in five metro areas and decreased in none.  Gains were particularly notable in Jonesboro (+1,800), Fayetteville (+900), and Texarkana (+500).  All eight metro areas have shown positive employment growth over the past 12 months, and two—Jonesboro and Fayetteville—now show higher employment levels than before the pandemic.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics (CES)

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Arkansas Employment and Unemployment – October 2021

The state employment report for October included several positive developments.  Unemployment dropped sharply and nonfarm payroll employment showed a healthy gain.

The headline news was a drop in the unemployment rate from 4.0% in September to 3.7% in October.  The national unemployment rate declined from 4.8% to 4.6% from September to October.  The BLS news release announcing today’s data noted that both the drop in Arkansas’ unemployment rate and the spread between the state and national unemployment rates were statistically significant.  At 3.7%, Arkansas’ unemployment rate is down 0.1 percentage point from the 3.8% rate of February 2020.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Underlying the decline in the unemployment rate was a sharp decrease in the number of unemployed, which was down by 3,756 in October following a drop of 2,950 (revised) in September.  The household survey showed a small decline in the number of employed, down 374.  The labor force contracted by the sum of the declines in employed and unemployed: down 4,130.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS)

Payroll Employment
Nonfarm payroll employment increased by 6,700 jobs in October, an increase of 0.5%.  Nationwide, payrolls expanded by 0.4% for the month.  Arkansas payrolls remain 1.2% lower than in the pre-pandemic month of February 2020, while U.S. payroll employment was down 2.8% over the same period.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics (CES)

The increase in Arkansas payroll employment was distributed across every private-employment sector, with the only decline registered in Government employment (primarily local government).  Sectors posting strong gains included Leisure & Hospitality (+1,700), Transportation & Utilities (+1,600), Education & Health Services (+1,000) and Durable Goods Manufacturing (+800).

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics (CES)

Most sectors show employment levels well-above a year ago, and several are showing net increases relative to pre-pandemic levels.  Durable Goods Manufacturing, in particular has shown consistent growth and is now employing 6,500 more workers than in February 2020 (an increase of 9.6%.  Manufacturing of Nondurable Goods, on the other hand, has shown persistent declines over the course of the economic expansion.  The sectors that were hardest-hit during the pandemic—-including Health Services Leisure & Hospitality Services, and Government—remain well below pre-pandemic peaks.

Household vs. Payroll Employment
The two sources of employment data have shown remarkably differing patterns of employment growth over the past two years, but have converged to show similar net-changes since the last business cycle peak.  As shown in the figure below, the payroll survey indicated a drop of nearly 10% from February to April of 2020, with a sharp initial recovery and gradual convergence toward its pre-pandemic level.  The data from the household survey, on the other hand, showed a much smaller initial decline, displays an incredible 4.2% jump for December 2020 and a trend of declining employment since then.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

The data from the payroll survey is generally considered more accurate during normal times, and the household survey appears to have had more pandemic-related disruptions over the past several months.  As a percent of pre-pandemic employment, both measures are now indicating similar magnitudes of decline, -1.2% in the payroll data and -1.3% in the household data.  An implication of this convergence is that we have some degree of confidence in the net change in labor force participation.  Although the unemployment rate has returned to pre-pandemic levels, the labor pool from which it is calculated has declined from 58.3% of the population to 57.0%.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, calculations by Arkansas Economic Development Institute

JOLTS Data for Arkansas
In addition to the monthly report on state-level employment and unemployment, the BLS today also released an update to its first-ever report on state-level Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) results from last month.  For Arkansas, the new data for September showed significant increases in Total Separations, as well as in the subcategory of Layoffs & Discharges.  The other specific category of Separations, Quits, hit an all-time high in September, both nationally and here in Arkansas.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS)

Job Openings were down by 5.1% in Arkansas, compared to a 1.8% decline for the U.S.  Nevertheless, the number of unemployed persons per job opening held relatively steady at 0.6% in Arkansas and declined 0.1 percentage point to 0.7% in the national data.

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS), calculations by the Arkansas Economic Development Institute.

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Seasonally adjusted data for Arkansas nonfarm payroll employment, reported in a format consistent with the monthly news release from the Arkansas Division of Workforce Services, can be found here: Table-Seasonally Adjusted NFPE. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Little Rock Regional Economic Briefing

 

Little Rock Regional Economic Briefing – 2021

Thank you to all the attendees and participants at this year’s Regional Economic Briefing.  The links below can be used to access the presentation slides for the National and State economic outlook presentations.

    – Kevin Kliesen:    The U.S. Economic Outlook

    – Michael Pakko:  The Arkansas Economic Outlook

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Little Rock Regional Economic Briefing

Little Rock Regional Economic Briefing2021

Please join the Little Rock Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and the Arkansas Economic Development Institute on Thursday, November 17th, for a regional economic briefing for business leaders, educators, community development practitioners and others interested in the economy.

During this virtual presentation, you will hear an update on economic conditions and the outlook for the region and nation:

    • Kevin Kliesen, St. Louis Fed research officer and business economist, will discuss national conditions.
    • Michael Pakko, Arkansas Economic Development Institute chief economist and state economic forecaster, will discuss the Arkansas economic outlook.

The program will include a welcome from Robert Hopkins, senior vice president and regional executive of the Little Rock Branch, and a Q&A session following the presentations.

There is no charge to attend, but registration is required by Nov. 15.

Questions? Contact Julie Kerr at julie.a.kerr@stls.frb.org or 501-324-8296.

Date:  Thursday, Nov. 17, 2021
Time:  8 – 10 a.m.
Location:  Virtual

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Arkansas Retail Sales – July & August 2021

The most recent information from our Retail Trade and Food Service Sales data show that consumers maintained a summer of soaring spending during July and August.  Compared to a year earlier, the July-August average was up 15.6% in Arkansas.  In the national Retail Sales data from the Census Bureau, consumer spending was up 15.2% over the same time span.  Relative to pre-pandemic levels, the summer’s retail sales figures are even more remarkable.  Compared to July-August of 2019, the figures for this past summer were up 25.8% in Arkansas  and 18.7% nationwide.

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, Arkansas Economic Development Institute

A breakdown of these growth rates by industry group shows that the increased spending is across-the-board.  The smallest increases from 2020 to 2021 were sales at Food and Beverage Stores — up only 2.6% in Arkansas and 4.6% in the U.S. data.  The largest increases were in spending at Gasoline Stations, where much of the increase can be attributed to higher gasoline prices.

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, Arkansas Economic Development Institute

The series for Food and Beverage Stores is a prime example of a persistent change in consumer spending patterns since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. After surging in the early months of the pandemic as households stocked-up on supplies, spending at this subset of retailers has settled in at around 16% higher than the summer of 2019.

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, Arkansas Economic Development Institute

Another sector with persistently robust sales growth over the past two years is Building Materials and Garden & Equipment and Supplies.  This spending category saw increases early in the pandemic, when many areas of the country were under lockdown, and has continued to surge above pre-pandemic levels. Over the summer months of July and August, spending in this sector was up from the previous year by 13.1% in Arkansas and 7.6% nationwide.  These increases were on top of sharp gains recorded the previous year.

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, Arkansas Economic Development Institute

Two sectors that have shown the largest increases in sales over the past year are Clothing and Clothing Accessories Stores and Gasoline stations.  The increased spending at gasoline stations partly reflects a recovery in travel, but largely reflects swings in gasoline prices during the recession and recovery phases.  In Clothing and Clothing Accessories, the spending patterns clearly display the resilience of the Arkansas consumer sector. The initial decline in spending was not nearly as large in Arkansas as the rest of the country, and by the summer of 2020 clothing store spending had fully recovered in Arkansas but still lagged pre-recession spending levels by more than 18% nationwide.  By the summer of 2021, nationwide spending in this sector had recovered to stand 14.8% higher than in the summer of 2019.  Here in Arkansas the increase from the summer of 2019 to the summer of 2021 was 24.5%.

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, Arkansas Economic Development Institute

Increases in consumer spending over the past year have been boosted by unprecedented surges in personal income, as government support and stimulus programs have boosted consumers’ purchasing power.  As personal income growth returns to its longer run trend, retail sales growth will necessarily slow.  It will be interesting to see how recent changes in the mix of consumer spending across subsectors will persist.

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Data on Arkansas Retail Trade and Food Service Sales are constructed by the Arkansas Economic Development Institute using tax collection information from the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration.  Documentation of Methodology is available here: Arkansas Retail Sales—A New Data Set from AEDI.

Data for Arkansas Retail and Food Service Sales for July 2017 through August 2021 are available in an Excel Spreadsheet:  Arkansas-Retail-Sales-Aug-2020.  The data set includes statewide aggregates and components, both seasonally adjusted and not-seasonally adjusted. County-level data for Total Retail and Food Service Sales excluding Gasoline are available on a not-seasonally adjusted basis.

 

 

 

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Metro Area Employment and Unemployment – September 2021

The generally upbeat statistics in the September employment report for Arkansas carried over to today’s summary of job market conditions in the state’s metro areas.

Unemployment rates were down in in all eight metro areas covering parts of Arkansas.  The unemployment rate in Memphis took a particularly steep nosedive, falling from 6.5% to 5.3%.  Unemployment rates in the other seven metros declined by 0.1 to 0.3 percentage points.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Smoothed Seasonally Adjusted Metropolitan Area Estimates

With the September unemployment declines, metro areas moved closer to pre-pandemic unemployment rates.  Fort Smith, which had already seen unemployment drop to below the 3.7% reading registered in February 2020, dropped further below that baseline.  With the exception of Memphis and Texarkana, unemployment rates in all metro areas are within 1 percentage point of their February 2020 levels.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Smoothed Seasonally Adjusted Metropolitan Area Estimates

Payroll Employment
Changes in nonfarm payroll employment were more mixed across metro areas.  Employment was down in Little Rock, Pine Bluff, and Texarkana, but moved higher in the other metro areas.  The decline in Pine Bluff was particularly steep, with employment dropping by nearly a full percent.  Other metro areas saw increases of 0.1% to 0.4%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics (CES)

In spite of recent gains, employment totals generally remain lower than the pre-pandemic month of February 2020.  The exception is Northwest Arkansas, where employment is up 1.9%.  Fort Smith is very close to achieving pre-pandemic levels of employment, while in Hot Springs, Little Rock and Texarkana, employment remains more than 3% below that benchmark month.

 

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JOLTS for Arkansas

CORRECTED VERSION: October 26, 2021*

In addition to the monthly report on state-level employment and unemployment, the Bureau of Labor Statistics issued this morning its first-ever report on state-level estimates for Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS).  The national JOLTS data have been an invaluable tool for labor economists in recent years, facilitating the examination of labor market flows in more detail than the traditional unemployment statistics.  The JOLTS data include estimates of Job Openings, Job Separations (divided into Quits, Layoffs & Discharges, and Other Separations) and Hires.

In recent months, two aspects of the national JOLTS data have been a focus of interest with regard to the ongoing “labor shortage.”   First, over the course of 2021 the ratio of unemployed persons to job openings was steadily declining, falling below 1.0 in July.  As shown in the figure below, that ratio has followed a similar path for Arkansas.  The number of unemployed per job opening had a much lower peak in Arkansas during the height of the pandemic (2.7 vs. 5.0 nationally), and the decline in Arkansas has paralleled the U.S. data.  The ratio fell below 1.0 for the U.S. in May, while the ratio in Arkansas has been below 1.0 since January.  As of August (the most recent data available), the unemployed/job-openings ratio was 0.8 in the U.S. data and 0.6 for Arkansas.*

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Job Openings and Labor Market Turnover Survey (JOLTS)

In the BLS’ debut report on state-level JOLTS data, Arkansas was singled out as the only state to have seen an increase in job openings in August, with the number of job openings increasing by 8,000 and the job openings rate rising by 0.6 percentage point to 7.1%. (The job openings rate is computed by dividing the number of job openings by the sum of employment and job openings and multiplying that quotient by 100.)

The second statistic from JOLTS that has received recent attention is the quits-rate: the number of job quitters as a percent of total employment.  In August, this ratio hit an all-time high of 2.9% for the U.S., suggesting that labor market conditions were so favorable that a record proportion of workers felt confident enough to quit their jobs in favor of better prospects.  As shown in the second figure, below, quit rates in Arkansas have generally run higher than the national average, but are also at or near a record-high for the state (particularly when some of the month-to-month volatility is smoothed using a moving average).

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Job Openings and Labor Market Turnover Survey (JOLTS)

Going forward, the new database on state-level JOLTS statistics undoubtedly will be a useful source of information about Arkansas labor market dynamics. There are many more insights (and shortcomings) associated with the data that we will be following in coming months here at the Arkansas Economist.

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*Correction:  The first-published version of this article included miscalculated values for the ratio of Unemployed to Job Openings for Arkansas.  The figures have been corrected and the commentary changed accordingly.  [The JOLTS data set does not include this ratio in their official reports for individual states, but it can be calculated using unemployment statistics from the Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS).  This is the calculation that was initially reported incorrectly.]

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Little Rock Regional Economic Briefing – Nov. 17th, 2021

LOGOS

Please join the Little Rock Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and the Arkansas Economic Development Institute on Thursday, November 17th, for a regional economic briefing for business leaders, educators, community development practitioners and others interested in the economy.

During this virtual presentation, you will hear an update on economic conditions and the outlook for the region and nation.

There is no charge to attend, but registration is required by Nov. 15.

Date: Thurs., Nov. 17, 2021
Time: 8 – 10 a.m.
Location: Virtual

 

Click Here for More Information

Special Reports: Impact of Covid-19 on the Arkansas Economy

Arkansas Consumer Spending in 2020
One of the most significant and unexpected features of the Arkansas economy during the COVID-19 pandemic has been the robust behavior of consumer spending…
Read more…

Leisure and Hospitality Industries in Arkansas–2020
Of all the sectors of the economy hat have been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, industries in the Leisure and Hospitality category have been among the hardest-hit…
Read more…

Forecast Update (July)
“Incoming data have continued to show a more rapid recovery from the COVID-19 shutdowns than previously expected.”
Read more…

Forecast Update (June)
Information since May has suggested that Arkansas has not been as severely impacted as other parts of the country, and that the sharp declines in national employment have abated.
Read more…

Forecast Update (May)
“The economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be more rapid and more severe than initially expected… In this updated report we present new projections for the Arkansas economy.”
Read more…

Forecast Update (April)
“In this note we update that forecast with new estimates of the magnitude of the downturn. We also update and extend our previous guidance on how the forecast is likely to impact sales tax receipts of local governments.”
Read more …

Implications for Local Government Sales Tax Collections
“In this note, we focus on consumer spending and the outlook for sales tax collections by county and municipal governments.” Read more…

Arkansas Economic Outlook (March)
“It appears that a dramatic downturn in economic activity over the remainder of 2020 is unavoidable for the nation and for Arkansas.”  Read more…

 

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