Non-farm job growth gains impressive for Northwest Arkansas, Jonesboro areas

Northwest Arkansas’ nonfarm job growth percentage ranked No. 11 in the nation last year out of 372 metro areas, according to figures posted Tuesday (Jan. 28) by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Jonesboro region wasn’t far behind with a rank of 14.

The Northwest Arkansas area is up compared to a rank of 33 in 2012, and Jonesboro improved from a rank of 152 in 2012.

Fort Smith ranked 34 in 2013 with a 2.91% gain in nonfarm jobs between December 2012 and December 2013; Hot Springs ranked 342 with a decline of 0.53%; Jonesboro ranked 14 with a 3.82% gain; Little Rock-North Little Rock ranked 191 with a 1.01% gain; and Pine Bluff ranked 343 with a 0.55% decline.

Following is how each metro area ranked in 2012 and 2013 in terms of percentage growth in non-farm jobs.
Fort Smith
2013: 34
2012: 327

Hot Springs
2013: 236
2012: 342

Jonesboro
2013: 14
2012: 152

Little Rock-North Little Rock
2013: 191
2012: 243

Northwest Arkansas
2013: 11
2012: 33

Pine Bluff
2013: 343
2012: 371

The top five metro areas in terms of percentage job growth between December 2012 and December 2013 were:
1. Naples-Marco Island, Fla. (7.72%)
2. Sebastian-Vero Beach, Fla. (6.54%)
3. Columbus, Ind. (6%)
4. Midland, Texas (5.73%)
5. Flagstaff, Ariz. (5.62%)

NORTHWEST ARKANSAS ANGLE
The Northwest Arkansas Council uses a 12-month moving average model – crafted by the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University – with the BLS jobs numbers that boosts Northwest Arkansas’ ranking to the 4th spot. The statement from the Northwest Arkansas Council said the Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers MSA equaled its best job growth ranking in the past 25 years based on the moving average data. It also ranked fourth nationally in 2001.

“Northwest Arkansas is one of the nation’s premiere job growth regions, and the statistics verify it,” Mike Malone, president and CEO of the Northwest Arkansas Council, said in a council statement issued Tuesday. “What’s exciting about this news is that it comes at a time when we know more jobs are on the way. We know Redman and Associates, South Coast Baking and American Tubing will add larger numbers of jobs this year on the heels of the more than 1,500 jobs added by Serco in 2013. We also know there are many Northwest Arkansas companies that will be adding jobs in 2014.”

Kathy Deck, the director of the Center for Business and Economic Research in the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas, said the employment growth in Northwest Arkansas is broad-based.

“All of our employment sectors are showing year-over-year growth,” Deck said in the statement from the Northwest Arkansas Council. “That kind of positive environment means that new and existing companies have enormous opportunities to thrive because of a strong regional customer base and increasing incomes.”

NON-FARM FIGURES
Following are the Arkansas metro non-farm jobs data issued Tuesday (Jan. 28) by the BLS. The numbers are preliminary and do not include topline information on labor force, total employment, the number of unemployed and the unemployment rate. The complete metro data for December will be released Feb. 5.

Fort Smith
December 2013: 120,300
December 2012: 116,900

Hot Springs
December 2013: 37,400
December 2012: 37,600

Jonesboro
December 2013: 54,400
December 2012: 52,400

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Little Rock-North Little Rock
December 2013: 349,000
December 2012: 345,500

Northwest Arkansas
December 2013: 224,400
December 2012: 215,500

Pine Bluff
December 2013: 36,200
December 2012: 36,400

Also on Tuesday, the BLS reported state jobless data. Arkansas’ December rate was 7.4%, up from 7.1% in December 2012. Arkansas was one of just six states to post a year-over-year jobless rate increase. December marked the 59th consecutive month that Arkansas’ jobless rate has been at or above 7%. Link here for more on the December jobs report.

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