Today’s report on metro area employment showed that the positive developments seen in the state-level report carried over to all of Arkansas’ metro areas. Unemployment declined and payroll employment expanded.
The statewide unemployment rate had previously been reported as declining by a remarkable 0.3 percentage points to 3.7%. Unemployment rates in all eight of Arkansas’ metro areas reflected the lower unemployment, with rates falling by 0.2 to 0.4 percentage points. Rates are considerably lower than a year ago, and are generally near pre-pandemic levels. Unemployment rates are lower than in February 2020 in Texarkana, Fort Smith, and the Fayetteville MSA. Memphis, Texarkana and Little Rock continue to experience higher unemployment rates than before the economic downturn, but even in those metro areas rates are elevated by less than a percentage point.
News from the payroll survey was similarly upbeat: employment increased in five metro areas and decreased in none. Gains were particularly notable in Jonesboro (+1,800), Fayetteville (+900), and Texarkana (+500). All eight metro areas have shown positive employment growth over the past 12 months, and two—Jonesboro and Fayetteville—now show higher employment levels than before the pandemic.