New and revised data on metropolitan area employment and unemployment were released this morning from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As was the case with the state-level data earlier this week, data from both the household and payroll surveys were subject to annual revisions. In the case of unemployment rates and other indicators from the household survey, the revised data are only partly available (the full revisions will be available April 21, 2023).
The table below shows the revisions to metro area unemployment rates for January 2022 and December 2022, along with the new estimate for January 2023 (not-seasonally adjusted data). As of December 2022, the revised data shows slightly lower unemployment rates for Hot Springs, Little Rock, Memphis, and Pine Bluff. Texarkana’s rate was revised slightly upward, while the other metro areas were unchanged. From December 2022 to January 2023, unemployment rates increased for all metro areas, reflecting typical seasonal changes. (The unemployment rate always increases at the beginning of the new year, after the holiday season ends.)
The figure below summarizes the unemployment rates for metro areas in January and the change since a year ago. The pattern of rates around the state has changed little over the past year. The unemployment rates in Northwest Arkansas and in Jonesboro are running below the statewide average, while rates in Hot Springs, Memphis, Pine Bluff and Texarkana are running higher. In Fort Smith and the Central Arkansas metro area, unemployment rates are close to the statewide average.
Nonfarm payroll employment data were extensively revised as part of the annual benchmark revision process. The figure below illustrates the changes. As was the case with the statewide data, the metro are employment numbers for Arkansas metro areas were generally revised higher. The exceptions were Memphis and Pine Bluff (where the revisions were mixed) and Texarkana (where the data were revised lower).
The revised data now show that employment has expanded beyond pre-pandemic levels in all metro areas except Pine Bluff. All eight metro areas displayed significant growth over the past twelve months. The monthly data for January show robust increases in Pine Bluff and Texarkana, with smaller gains in Hot Springs, Jonesboro and Little Rock. Data for the Memphis metro area show a slight decline for the month.