The statewide employment data for June showed little change in Arkansas labor market conditions, and the newly-released data for metropolitan areas consistent with that conclusion. On a not-seasonally adjusted basis, unemployment rates in Arkansas metro areas rose by 0.4 to 1.2 percentage points, but those changes were typical for June (after the school-year ends). After seasonable adjustment unemployment rates in Arkansas metro areas were generally unchanged. The unemployment rate ticked up one-tenth percent in Memphis and down two-tenths in Fort Smith, but was unchanged elsewhere.
Compared to a year ago, unemployment rates were down significantly across the state, with the largest declines tending to be in those metro areas (and counties) that saw the largest spikes in 2020. Compared to pre-pandemic levels in February 2020, unemployment rates are running about one to two percentage points higher in metro areas.
Changes in nonfarm payroll employment were mixed. Employment was higher in five of Arkansas’ metro areas, down slightly in Fort Smith, and unchanged in Jonesboro and Little Rock. Compared to June 2021, employment has recovered considerably in all metro areas, but remains lower than pre-pandemic levels. With the monthly increase in June, payrolls in the Fayetteville metro area had nearly recovered to the February 2020 reading. In other metro areas, the net declines range from -1.8% in Fort Smith to -3.8 in Little Rock.