Unemployment rates in Arkansas metro areas remain lower than a year earlier. Wednesday’s news release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics noted that year-over-year changes in unemployment rates show declines in 323 of the nations 388 metropolitan areas, with all of Arkansas metros included in that total. Recent monthly changes in unemployment rates have indicated a leveling-off, with most of the declines since August 2016 having taken place in the final months of 2016.
As previously reported, Arkansas’ statewide unemployment rate ticked up one-tenth of a percentage point in August, with the increase attributable to the first notable increase in the number of unemployed Arkansans since 2011. Unemployment rates in the state’s metro areas generally followed the same pattern. An increase in the number of unemployed was reported each of Arkansas’ metro areas except Memphis. The increases were large enough to push unemployment rates up in Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Jonesboro, Little Rock and Pine Bluff.
Nonfarm payroll employment in Arkansas metro areas also followed the statewide pattern of a downturn in August, with payrolls declining in four of the state’s metro areas. Declines were particularly pronounced in the rapidly growing northwest and northeast corners of the state, where recent employment growth trends have been the highest. Payroll employment in Fayetteville was down 0.4% from July to August, but remained up 3.0% from a year earlier. In Jonesboro, the monthly decline registered 0.5%, leaving employment 1.6% above its August 2016 level.