The latest report on metro area employment and unemployment was just about as un-newsworthy as the state-level report that came out two weeks ago. Unemployment rates were little changed from May to June, with up-ticks of one-tenth percent in Fayetteville, Fort Smith, and Jonesboro; and a one-tenth down-tick in Pine Bluff. Unemployment rates have remained remarkably low and stable. In the past six months, the only cumulative changes of more than one-tenth of a percentage point were in Memphis (-0.4) and Texarkana (-0.3). Compared to June 2022, unemployment rates are down by about one percentage point across the state. Unemployment rates in Memphis and Hot Springs have fallen the most in the past 12 months, attributable to the fact that rates in those metro areas were higher than others during the pandemic-recession.
Changes in nonfarm payroll employment were mixed across metro areas. Six of the eight metro areas saw increases in employment, with the largest gains in Pine Bluff (+1.0%) and Jonesboro (+0.7%). Employment in Little Rock declined by 0.4% and was down slightly in Fort Smith.
Compared to a year ago, employment growth has been relatively strong in all metro areas. The highest growth rates have been in Fayetteville (+5.3%), Memphis (+3.2%) and Jonesboro (+3.0%) Those three metro areas are also the only three where total employment was higher in June 2022 than it was in February 2020, just prior to the pandemic-recession.