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NWA jobless rate declines in August

The unemployment rate in Northwest Arkansas fell in August to 5.3% thanks to more than 2,000 fewer unemployed in the economic region. August is the fifth month in 2012 with a jobless rate below 6%.

July’s jobless rate was 6.1%, and the August 2011 jobless rate was 6.4%, according to figures released Wednesday (Oct. 3) by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The size of the regional workforce during August was 240,671, almost 2,000 fewer than July, but well ahead of the 232,071 in August 2011. It’s not unusual for the workforce size to dip between July and August.

Despite the workforce number decline, Northwest Arkansas continues to trend upward in that category. The average annual monthly labor size was 231,461 during 2011, 227,938 during 2010 and 225,177 during 2009.

All of the eight metro areas in or connected to Arkansas had jobless rate declines in August compared to July, and were all down compared to August 2011. During August, the lowest metro jobless rate was in Northwest Arkansas with 5.3% and the highest rate was 8.9% in the Memphis/West Memphis metro.

NORTHWEST ARKANSAS METRO NUMBERS
Unemployed persons in the region totaled 12,703 during August, well below the 14,856 during July and below the 15,702 during August 2011.

The Northwest Arkansas manufacturing sector employed an estimated 27,800 in August, down compared to 28,000 in July, but ahead of the 27,400 during August 2011. Sector employment is down almost 19% from more than a decade ago when January 2002 manufacturing employment in the metro area stood at 34,300.

Jobs in the Trade, Transportation and Utilities sector — the region’s largest job sector —  totaled 47,000 in August, up from 46,800 during July, and up from the 45,700 during August 2011. Employment in the sector is off from the high of 50,500 posted in December 2006.

Employment in the region’s tourism industry was 20,700 during August, up from 20,600 in July and up from 19,100 during August 2011. Employment in the sector set a new record (20,800) in June.

In Education & Health Services, employment was 23,500 during August, down from 23,200 during July and up from 22,100 during August 2011.

NATIONAL NUMBERS
Unemployment rates were lower in August than a year earlier in 325 of the 372 metropolitan areas, higher in 40 areas, and unchanged in 7 areas, noted the broad BLS report. Also, five areas recorded jobless rates of at least 15%, while 29 areas registered rates of less than 5%.

The U.S. unemployment rate in August was 8.1%, down from 9.1% from a year earlier.

Arkansas’ jobless rate was 7.3% in August, unchanged from July and below the 8.2% rate in August 2011.

Oklahoma’s jobless rate during August was 5.1%, down from 4.9% during July, and below the 6.2% during August 2011. The Missouri jobless rate during August was 7.2%, unchanged from July, and below the 8.6% during August 2011.

ARKANSAS METRO AREAS
Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers

Aug. 2012: 5.3%
July 2012: 6.1%
Aug. 2011: 6.4%

Fort Smith
Aug. 2012: 7.9%
July 2012: 8.5%
Aug. 2011: 8.8%

Hot Springs
Aug. 2012: 7.3%
July 2012: 8%
Aug. 2011: 8.3%

Jonesboro
Aug. 2012: 6.6%
July 2012: 7.6%
Aug. 2011: 8.1%

Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway
Aug. 2012: 6.3%
July 2012: 7%
Aug. 2011: 7.5%

Memphis-West Memphis
Aug. 2012: 8.9%
July 2012: 9.6%
Aug. 2011: 10.3%

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Pine Bluff
Aug. 2012: 8.8%
July 2012: 9.8%
Aug. 2011: 10.9%

Texarkana
Aug. 2012: 6.6%
July 2012: 7.1%
Aug. 2011: 8.1%

NORTHWEST ARKANSAS METRO AREA HISTORY
Past annual average unemployment rates
2011: 6.2%
2010: 6.5%
2009: 6.1%
2008: 4.1%
2007: 3.8%
2006: 3.6%
2005: 3.3%
2004: 3.8%
2003: 3.7%
2002: 3.3%
2001: 3%
2000: 2.9%

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