The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this morning that unemployment rates in all of Arkansas’ metro areas were down from a year earlier. Unemployment rates have been falling for well over a year now, and the pace of decline is slowing somewhat. Consequently, the some of the year-over-year declines in April are smaller than they have been in recent months. From April 2014 to April 2015, changes in unemployment rates have ranged from -0.2% in Fort Smith to -1.1% in Texarkana. Statewide, the unemployment rate declined 0.4% over the same period.
The data are now fully revised to reflect new estimation methodologies and data sources, as well as changes in the definitions of metropolitan areas. However, smoothed seasonally adjusted estimates have not yet been updated, so meaningful month-to-month comparisons are not possible.
Recent changes in payroll employment have been mixed. From March to April, both Fort Smith and Jonesboro saw rather sharp increases — up 1.0% and 1.1%, respectively (seasonally adjusted). Smaller gains were reported for Fayetteville, Little Rock and Memphis. The other metro areas experienced month-to-month declines. Over the past 12 months, employment in Pine Bluff has continued to decline and has been basically unchanged in Texarkana.* Year-over-year net job growth has been positive elsewhere. Nevertheless, total employment remains below pre-recession levels in 5 of the 80metro areas that include parts of Arkansas.
Note: Payroll data for Texarkana (which now include Little River County) are not presently being published by the BLS on a seasonally adjusted basis. Payroll employment figures for Texarkana refer to data that have been seasonally adjusted by the Institute for Economic Advancement.