New data on unemployment rates in metro areas came out yesterday. However, the full time series for employment, unemployment and labor force participation are still not available following the most recent data revision. Consequently, the only information to report at this time is the not-seasonally adjusted unemployment rates for February. As shown in the table, unemployment rates have fallen substantially over the most recent 12 months in all eight of the metro areas covering portions of Arkansas. Declines range from one full percentage point in Texarkana to 1.7% in Memphis. The BLS News Release noted that Memphis was tied for the largest unemployment rate decline among the 51 metro areas in the country with a population of 1 million or more.
As previously reported, statewide nonfarm payroll employment rose sharply in February, increasing by 6,100 jobs (0.5%). Over half of that net job gain took place in Northwest Arkansas: Employment in the Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers metro area rose by 3,100 for the month — 1.3%. Gains were also reported in Jonesboro, Little Rock, and Pine Bluff. Employment was down for the month in Fort Smith, Memphis, and Texarkana.* On a year over year basis, employment is up in all metro areas except Pine Bluff.
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Note: Seasonally adjusted payroll employment data for Texarkana remain temporarily unavailable from the BLS. The data in this report were seasonally adjusted in-house at the Institute for Economic Advancement.