Unemployment rates in Arkansas metropolitan areas generally held steady in August. Not seasonally adjusted rates declined in all eight metro areas, but those changes were associated with the start of the new school year at public and private educational institutions. After seasonal adjustment, unemployment rates were unchanged in six of the eight metro areas. The unemployment rate in Fort Smith ticked up 0.1% to 3.6% and the rate in Texarkana ticked down 0.1% to 4.2%. Compared to a year earlier, unemployment rates were down across the state–with the exception of Memphis and Pine Bluff which both saw rates 0.1% higher than in August 2018.
Monthly changes in nonfarm payroll employment varied considerably across metro areas. Texarkana showed unusually strong job growth of 0.7%, Fayetteville and Hot Springs were both up by 0.3%, and Jonesboro was up 0.2%. Job declines were recorded for Fort Smith, Little Rock, and Pine Bluff. On a year-over year basis, employment growth rates cluster into three categories: The rapidly growing metro areas include Fayetteville, Hot Springs, Jonesboro, and Texarkana (all with higher growth rates than the national average). Slower growing metro areas include Little Rock and Memphis. The two remaining areas, Fort Smith and Pine Bluff, have both experienced employment declines over the most recent twelve months.