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Metro Area Employment and Unemployment – July 2020

The July report on metro area employment and unemployment that came out this morning showed continued improvement in Arkansas labor markets following the pandemic-related downturn in March and April.

Payroll employment increased from June to July in six of Arkansas’ metro areas, with Little Rock unchanged and Pine Bluff down 1.3%.  All eight metro areas have shown employment increases since the April trough, with three-month increases ranging from 2.6% in Pine Bluff to 12.8% in Hot Springs.  Nevertheless, employment in all eight metro areas remains well below cyclical peaks in February and below year-ago levels.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics (CES)

Unemployment rates were down in all metro areas except Memphis, where the unemployment rate increased from 11.3% to 12.7%.  Unemployment in Northwest Arkansas declined to 5.4%.  At 6.4% Jonesboro was the only other metro area with an unemployment rate lower than the statewide average of 7.1%.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Seasonally Adjusted Metropolitan Area Estimates

The map below displays a snapshot of unemployment rates by county for July, along with the change from May (not seasonally adjusted data).  Unemployment rates declined from June to July in all 75 of Arkansas’ counties. The uniformity of the declines is all the more remarkable given that seasonal patterns typically add about two-tenths of a percentage point to unemployment rate changes between June and July.  The lowest unemployment rates in the state continue to be in Madison County (4.7%) and Arkansas County (5.0%)  Unemployment rates remain in the double-digits for several counties in the south and east regions of the state, with the highest rates in Chicot County (12.9%) and Mississippi County (11.9%)