Unemployment rates in Arkansas metro areas were little changed in December. The rate declined by one-tenth of a percent in Memphis, to 4.1%, and increased by one-tenth in Pine Bluff, to 5.3%. Compared to a year earlier, the unemployment rate in Texarkana was down 0.9%, with smaller year-over-year declines reported for Jonesboro, Hot Springs and Northwest Arkansas. Memphis and Pine Bluff saw slight increases since December 2018, while Fort Smith and Little Rock saw zero net change over course of the year.
Annual averages for metro area unemployment rates will not be published until March 4th, after the annual data revision process is completed. Using preliminary data, the figure below shows un-revised, unofficial averages for the year. For the year, unemployment rates were lower than the statewide average in Fayetteville, Jonesboro and Little Rock, while rates were above-average in Memphis, Pine Bluff and Texarkana. Unemployment rates in Fort Smith and Hot Springs were approximately equal to the statewide average.
Nonfarm payroll employment increased in five of the state’s metro areas in December, with the largest increase in Northwest Arkansas (0.5%). Memphis and Texarkana saw slight declines for the month, while Jonesboro and Pine Bluff experienced no net change.
Compared to a year earlier, employment was down by 1.8% in Pine Bluff, but was unchanged or higher in Arkansas’ other metro areas. Fayetteville and Jonesboro continued to show the fastest growth, with rates of 4.1% and 2.6%, respectively.