Northwest Arkansas metro jobless rate rises to 4.9% in May

The Northwest Arkansas jobless rate continued in May to be the lowest in Arkansas, but the regional labor force and the number of employed shrank compared to May 2013.

The May rate of 4.9% was higher the 4.5% in April but below the 5.8% in May 2013. Metro employment of 222,723 was up slightly from the 222,241 in April, but slightly below the 223,140 in May 2013, according to figures released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The May numbers are subject to revision.

May marked the 11th consecutive month that the NWA metro jobless rate has been below 6%, and the second consecutive month below 5%. The metro area is the only one in Arkansas to post a rate below 5%.

The size of the Northwest Arkansas regional workforce during May was estimated at 234,188, up from the 232,809 during April, but 1.08% below the 236,763 during May 2013. The average annual monthly labor size was 234,412 in 2013, 232,208 during 2012, 228,918 during 2011 and 225,974 during 2010.

All eight metro areas in or connected to Arkansas had jobless rate increases in May compared to April, but had jobless rate declines compared to May 2013. During May, the lowest metro jobless rate in the state was 4.9% in Northwest Arkansas and the highest rate was 8.4% in the Pine Bluff area.

NWA METRO NUMBERS
Following are other key figures from the BLS metro report.
Unemployed persons in the region totaled 11,465 during May, up from the 10,568 during April and below the 13,623 during May 2013.

The Northwest Arkansas manufacturing sector employed an estimated 26,200 in May, unchanged compared to April, and down from the 26,500 during May 2013. Sector employment is down more than 21% from more than a decade ago when May 2004 manufacturing employment in the metro area stood at 33,400.

Jobs in the Trade, Transportation and Utilities sector — the region’s largest job sector —  totaled 47,700 in May, below the 48,200 during April, and unchanged compared to May 2013. The sector reached record employment of 50,500 in December 2006.

Employment in the region’s tourism industry was 22,400 during May, which set a new record for the sector. The May data is subject to revision. The level was up from 22,200 in April and up from 21,700 during May 2013.

In Education & Health Services, employment was 24,900 during May, up from 24,800 in April and up from 24,200 during May 2013. The May employment, if it stands, sets a new record for the sector.

In the Government sector, employment was 32,700 during May, up from 32,600 in April and up compared to 32,000 during May 2013.

NATIONAL NUMBERS
Unemployment rates were lower in May than a year earlier in 357 of the 372 metropolitan areas, higher in 11 areas, and unchanged in four areas, noted the broad BLS report.

The U.S. unemployment rate in May was 6.3%, down from 7.5% from a year earlier. Arkansas’ jobless rate was 6.4% in May, down from 6.6% in April and down from 7.5% in May 2013.

Oklahoma’s jobless rate during May was 4.6%, unchanged compared to April, and down compared to 5.4% in May 2013. The Missouri jobless rate during May was 6.6%, unchanged compared to April and below the 6.7% in May 2013.

ARKANSAS METRO AREAS
Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers
May 2014: 4.9%
April 2014: 4.5%
May 2013: 5.8%

Fort Smith
May 2014: 6.3%
April 2014: 5.9%
May 2013: 7.8%

Hot Springs
May 2014: 6.4%
April 2014: 6.1%
May 2013: 7.6%

Jonesboro
May 2014: 5.8%
April 2014: 5.6%
May 2013: 7.1%

Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway
May 2014: 5.8%
April 2014: 5.5%
May 2013: 6.7%

Memphis-West Memphis
May 2014: 7.5%
April 2014: 7%
May 2013: 9.2%

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Pine Bluff
May 2014: 8.4%
April 2014: 8.3%
May 2013: 9.5%

Texarkana
May 2014: 6%
April 2014: 5.8%
May 2013: 7%

NORTHWEST ARKANSAS METRO AREA HISTORY
Past annual average unemployment rates
2013: 5.7%
2012: 5.6%
2011: 6.2%
2010: 6.4%
2009: 6.2%
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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