Earlier this week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its latest report on employment and unemployment in the nations Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs). The data indicate that it has been a slow summer for job growth in Arkansas’ MSAs.
Unemployment data for August (not seasonally adjusted) showed that the unemployment rate ticked up by one-tenth of a percent in three of the state’s MSAs, and was unchanged in the other four. However, August is typically a month in which the unemployment rate experiences a seasonal decline. Adjusting the data for this recurring seasonal pattern, the data show that unemployment rose substantially in each of the state’s seven metro areas. For four of the seven metro areas, the increase in seasonally-adjusted unemployment in August follows an uptick in July as well.
Payroll employment growth in Arkansas MSAs also showed weakness in August. From July to August, employment increased in Fort Smith and Hot Springs, but declined in each of the other metro areas. For the first eight months of the year, only Hot Springs and Texarkana have shown positive job growth. Compared to the previous year, employment is lower in five of the seven MSAs, with positive year-over-year changes recorded for Jonesboro and Texarkana.
Since the onset of the recession in December 2007, cumulative job losses vary considerably across metro areas. Employment in Jonesboro has recovered to about the same level as at the end of 2007. At the other end of the spectrum, Fort Smith has seen job losses totalling 8.2 percent.