As previously reported, the statewide unemployment rate rose slightly in July, from 8.1% to 8.2% (seasonally adjusted). New data released this morning shows that most of Arkansas’ Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) experienced stable or lower unemployment rates. As shown in the table below, not-seasonally-adjusted unemployment rates declined in all of the state’s MSAs except for Texarkana. Unemployment tends to be higher during the summer months, reflecting the impact of summer vacation for school employees and students. There is typically a very slight drop in unemployment rates between June and July. After accounting for these seasonal regularities, seasonally adjusted figures show unemployment rates declining in Hot Springs, Jonesboro, Little Rock, Memphis, and Pine Bluff. Texarkana saw a small uptick in unemployment, while rates in Fayetteville and Fort Smith were unchanged.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that unemployment rates in July were lower than a year earlier in 257 of the nation’s 372 MSAs, higher in 94, and unchanged in 21. Here in Arkansas, only Hot Springs shows a lower unemployment rate than in July 2010.
The figures for nonfarm payroll employment in Arkansas’ MSAs show mixed results for July: Compared to the previous month, employment declined in Fayetteville, Fort Smith and Texarkana. Increases were recorded for Pine Bluff, Memphis, and Hot Springs. The payroll data for Hot Springs have been particularly volatile in recent months, but as of the most recent observation, Hot Springs employment is 7.3% higher than a year ago, 7.8% higher than the employment trough of February 2010, and 2.6% higher than at the start of the 2008-09 recession. Jonesboro also shows gains over all of those time-horizons, with employment up 1.0% since the start of the recession.