Metro area unemployment rates for March 2010 were released last week by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services. Over the first three months of 2010, seasonally-adjusted unemployment rates rose in all of Arkansas’ Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs). The Pine Bluff MSA continued to register the highest unemployment rate in the state: 9.9% in March–slightly above the national average of 9.7%. All of the state’s other metro areas were below the national average, with the lowest rate being 6.6% in the Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers MSA.
Nonfarm payroll employment was up sharply in the statewide data for March (see previous post). For the state’s metro areas, employment was unchanged or up slightly in six of the seven MSAs. Only Texarkana showed a decline for the month. However, Texarkana had shown increases earlier in the year and it is the only MSA in Arkansas with positive employment growth, on net, over the most recent three months (from December).
Compared to March of last year, employment in March 2010 was down in all of Arkansas metro areas. In percentage terms, Jonesboro showed the smallest decline: down by only -0.6 percent. Having shown a sharp decline in the first three months of 2010, employment in Hot Springs is down by 3.2 percent from a year earlier.