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NWA jobless rate drops to 4.8% in November

The November jobless rate in Northwest Arkansas fell to 4.8% from 5.1% in October, the first time since November 2012 that the rate has been below 5%. The region also saw record employment in the Trade, Transportation and Utilities sector and the Government sector, although the figures are subject to revision.

Metro employment of 229,639 was up 0.9% compared to October 2013, and was up 1.7% compared to the number of employed in November 2012. The November jobless rate of 4.8% was above the 4.7% in November 2012, according to figures released Tuesday (Jan. 7) by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

All eight metro areas in or connected to Arkansas had jobless rate declines in November compared to October, and seven areas had jobless rate increases compared to November 2012. The Fort Smith regional jobless rate was better than the 7.3% in November 2012.

During November, the lowest metro jobless rate in the state was in Northwest Arkansas and the highest rate was 9.5% in the Pine Bluff area.

The November report marked the 16th consecutive month that the region’s jobless rate has been at or below 6%.

NWA METRO NUMBERS
The size of the Northwest Arkansas regional workforce during November was estimated at 241,333, up from the 239,913 during October, and ahead of the 236,832 during November 2012. June 2013 was the first month the region’s workforce topped 240,000. The average annual monthly labor size was 231,461 during 2012, 227,938 during 2010 and 225,177 during 2009.

Following are other key figures from the BLS metro report.
• Unemployed persons in the region totaled 11,694 during November, down from the 12,351 during October and more than the 11,069 during November 2012.

• The Northwest Arkansas manufacturing sector employed an estimated 27,100 in November, up from 26,800 in October, and above the 26,900 during November 2012. Sector employment is down more than 21% from more than a decade ago when November 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 52,100 in November, up from 51,300 during October, and up from the 49,500 during November 2012. The November employment level is a new record in Northwest Arkansas for the sector, although it is subject to revision in future reports.

• Employment in the region’s tourism industry was 21,900 during November, down from 22,100 in October and up from 20,800 during November 2012. September employment of 22,300 was a new record for the sector, although the figure could be revised in subsequent reports.

• In Education & Health Services, employment was 26,200 during November, up from 26,000 during October and up from 24,800 during November 2012.

• In the Government sector, employment was 31,500 during November, up from 31,300 in October and up compared to 31,100 during November 2012.

NATIONAL NUMBERS
Unemployment rates were lower in November than a year earlier in 293 of the 372 metropolitan areas, higher in 71 areas, and unchanged in 8 areas, noted the broad BLS report.

The U.S. unemployment rate in November was 7%, down from 7.8% from a year earlier. Arkansas’ jobless rate was 7.5% in November, unchanged compared to October and up from 7.2% in November 2012.

Oklahoma’s jobless rate during November was 5.4%, down from 5.5% in October, and up compared to 5.1% in November 2012. The Missouri jobless rate during November was 6.1%, compared to 6.5% in October and better than the 6.6% in November 2012.

ARKANSAS METRO AREAS
Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers
November 2013: 4.8%
October 2013: 5.1%
November 2012: 4.7%

Fort Smith
November 2013: 6.9%
October 2013: 7.3%
November 2012: 7.3%

Hot Springs
November 2013: 7.5%
October 2013: 7.8%
November 2012: 6.8%

Jonesboro
November 2013: 6.3%
October 2013: 6.4%
November 2012: 6.2%

Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway
November 2013: 6.1%
October 2013: 6.5%
November 2012: 5.8%

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Memphis-West Memphis
November 2013: 8.8%
October 2013: 9.5%
November 2012: 8.1%

Pine Bluff
November 2013: 9.5%
October 2013: 9.6%
November 2012: 8.4%

Texarkana
November 2013: 6.8%
October 2013: 7.1%
November 2012: 6%

NORTHWEST ARKANSAS METRO AREA HISTORY
Past annual average unemployment rates
2012: 5.6%
2012: 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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