Fort Smith jobless rate dips, but fewer employed

The shrinking size of the Fort Smith metro area helped push the November jobless rate lower, although the number of employed in the region was 553 fewer than October and 1,843 fewer than November 2011.

November’s jobless rate in the region was 7.6%, down from an upwardly revised 8% in October and below the 8.1% in November 2011.

All of the eight metro areas in or connected to Arkansas had jobless rate decreases in November compared to October, and all eight areas had jobless rate declines compared to November 2011.

During November, the lowest metro jobless rate was in Northwest Arkansas with 4.6% and the highest rate was 8.3% in the Pine Bluff area.

According to figures released Tuesday (Jan. 8) by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the size of the Fort Smith regional workforce during November was 127,380, down from the 128,490 during October, and below the 130,162 during November 2011.

November was the 47th consecutive month the metro jobless rate has been at or above 7%.

The regional labor force consistently remained above 130,000 beginning in October 2004, but fell below 130,000 in December. The labor force reached a high of 139,544 in June 2008.

The number of employed during November fell to 117,716 from 118,269 in October. The November employment was also below the 119,559  in November 2011.

Unemployed persons in the region totaled an estimated 9,664 during November, below the 10,221 during October and below the 10,603 during November 2011.

The Fort Smith area manufacturing sector employed an estimated 19,100 in November, just below the 19,200 in October, but up over the 18,800 during November 2011. Employment in the sector is down more than 35% from more than a decade ago when January 2001 manufacturing employment in the metro area stood at 30,700.

Jobs in the Trade, Transportation and Utilities sector — the region’s largest job sector —  totaled 24,000 in November, up from 23,700 in October, and above the 23,800 during November 2011. Employment in the sector is off from the high of 25,700 posted in December 2007.

Employment in the region’s tourism industry was 8,300 during November, down from 8,500 in October and unchanged compared to November 2011. The sector reached an employment high of 9,800 in November 2008.

In Education & Health Services, employment was 15,100 during November, down from 15,200 in October and below the 15,900 during November 2011.

In the Government sector, employment was 19,200 during November, up from 19,000 in October and unchanged compared to November 2011.

Unemployment rates were lower in November than a year earlier in 322 of the 372 metropolitan areas, higher in 36 areas, and unchanged in 14 areas, noted the broad BLS report.

The U.S. unemployment rate in November was 7.8%, down from 8.2% from a year earlier. Arkansas’ jobless rate was 7% in November, down from 7.2% in October and below the 7.9% rate in November 2011.

Oklahoma’s jobless rate during November was 5.2%, down from 5.3% during October, and below the 6.3% during November 2011. The Missouri jobless rate during November was 6.7%, compared to 6.9% in October and 8.1% during November 2011.

Nov. 2012: 4.6%
Oct. 2012: 5%
Nov. 2011: 5.4%

Fort Smith
Nov. 2012: 7.6%
Oct. 2012: 8%
Nov. 2011: 8.1%

Hot Springs
Nov. 2012: 6.8%
Oct. 2012: 7.1%
Nov. 2011: 7.5%

Nov. 2012: 6.2%
Oct. 2012: 6.5%
Nov. 2011: 6.5%

Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway
Nov. 2012: 5.8%
Oct. 2012: 6%
Nov. 2011: 6.3%


Memphis-West Memphis
Nov. 2012: 7.7%
Oct. 2012: 8.6%
Nov. 2011: 9.1%

Pine Bluff
Nov. 2012: 8.3%
Oct. 2012: 8.4%
Nov. 2011: 9.3%

Nov. 2012: 5.6%
Oct. 2012: 6%
Nov. 2011: 6.8%

Past annual average unemployment rates
2011: 8.6%
2010: 8.2%
2009: 7.9%
2008: 4.8%
2007: 5.3%
2006: 4.9%
2005: 4.5%
2004: 5.2%
2003: 5.5%
2002: 5%
2001: 4.2%
2000: 3.7%

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what are you saying????

how do people justify a headline like this, it makes no sense or common sense!! Unemployment rate down but!! fewer people working????? Do ya'll work for the Obama admin!!

You are a moron. If fewer

You are a moron. If fewer people are in the workforce, the denominator (workforce) goes down. Therefore, even if the numerator (people working) stays the same, the % will decrease. This is called mathematics, you have obviously never heard of it.

Should'nt the numbers include

Should'nt the numbers include the people who have given up and have dropped out of the workforce.(are they not unemployed). This is smoke and mirrors. If ten people are in a room but you only count two of them are not the other eight still there or did they disappear!! By the way you must be way to smart to recongnize sarcasm BAZINGA SHELDON!!

I agree, the metric is flawed

I agree, the metric is flawed...sorry if I got heated!!! I honestly don't like the metric. It lags and the fact that it doesn't inlclude those that dropped out of the search. I've read estimates that if you included those folks unemployment and underemployment might be as high as 15%! I definitely think it would be over 10%, however. It's a poor benchmark. We appear to agree in the end. Yes, I missed the sarcasm. Again, apologies.

Just look around yourself

Look around and you can tell how many people are out of work, for whatever reason. Whatever benchmark is used for measuring, just observe reduced hours operation for stores and services. Less busy restaurants and shopping aisles. Less traffic in general, etc. Empty storefronts, more parking spaces, etc. You'll get a feel that something is amiss. The irony of it all is that the people at the top who let this economy crash still have a job.

could be

some people have given up looking for work and have dropped off the unemployment radar screen! some people have moved to other employment opportunities in other cities and no longer are a fort smith statistic so it could be that unemployment claims are down with less people working. the most important issue for fort smith is to turn around the business and job losses to keep our economy from tanking and that takes job creation and more consumer spending or the city really will go to the dogs.