End-of-year statistics for employment and unemployment in in metropolitan areas were released this morning by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Unemployment rates (seasonally adjusted*) declined slightly in most of Arkansas’ MSAs in December, but rose in Fort Smith. As shown in the chart below, The lower unemployment rates we saw during the summer were transitory — evidently associated with of temporary Census employment. Rates generally ended the year slightly higher than they were in January, rising by 0.3 to 0.5 percentage points in most of the state’s metro areas. Fort Smith showed an end-of-year increase that took its unemployment rate to 8.6%, up by 0.7 percentage points from January. Only Texarkana’s unemployment rate declined over the course of the year, falling slightly to 7.3 percent in December.
Employment statistics from the payroll survey showed employment increases in all of Arkansas’ metro areas in December. Hot Springs, Jonesboro and Pine Bluff showed significant increases. For the year as a whole, employment was up in three MSAs: Hot Springs, Texarkana and Jonesboro. In fact, employment in Jonesboro remains higher now than it was at the start of the recession in December 2007. At the other extreme, employment in Fort Smith is now down 8% from the start of the recession.
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*Seasonally adjusted data for MSA Payroll Employment are available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, data for unemployment rates are not. In order to facilitate comparisons over different months of the year, unemployment rates are seasonally adjusted by the Institute for Economic Advancement using the conventional Census-X12 ARIMA procedure.