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Metro Area Employment and Unemployment – April 2024

The latest estimates for employment and unemployment in metro areas were released by the BLS this week. Unemployment rates in most of Arkansas’ metro areas were unchanged, with small declines (-0.1%) registered for Northwest Arkansas and the Fort Smith MSA. It had been previously reported that the national unemployment rate ticked up by one-tenth of a percent in April, and that Arkansas’ unemployment rate ticked down by the same amount. Unemployment rates remain lower than the national average in Northwest Arkansas, Jonesboro, and Central Arkansas. In other metro areas, unemployment rates are at or above the national average.

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

Payroll Employment
Nonfarm payroll employment increased in most of the state’s metro areas in April, with the notable exception of Hot Springs. The largest percentage increases were in Northwest Arkansas and Jonesboro. Compared to a year ago, Northwest Arkansas has achieved the highest growth rate, followed by Central Arkansas. Employment in Fort Smith and Jonesboro have also increased, while other metro areas show zero or negative job growth.

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

Since the pre-pandemic month of February 2020, payroll employment growth rates have varied widely. Northwest Arkansas, Central Arkansas and Fort Smith have shown steady growth, albeit at different paces. Hot Springs and Jonesboro showed employment rebounds in 2022, but growth in those metro areas has slowed. In Pine Bluff, Texarkana and Memphis employment us unchanged or lower relative to levels in February 2020.

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