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Number of employed continues to decline in the Fort Smith metro

A continued decline in the size of the workforce and the number of employed edged the Fort Smith metro jobless rate to 6.4% in June compared to 6.3% in May. The rate was lower than the 8.2% in June 2013, but the number of employed in the region fell 2.24% in the 12-month period.

June’s data is subject to revision in future reports from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The size of the Fort Smith regional workforce during June was 126,822, down slightly from 126,971 during May, and well below the 132,323 during June 2013, according to figures released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The labor force reached a revised high of 140,253 in June 2007, meaning the June workforce size is down 9.57% from the peak number.

The number of employed in the Fort Smith region totaled 118,751 in June, down from 118,929 in May, and an estimated 2,726 jobs below the 121,477 employed in June 2013.

Six of the eight metro areas in or connected to Arkansas had jobless rate increases in June compared to May, but all had jobless rate declines compared to June 2013. Northwest Arkansas and central Arkansas jobless rates in June were unchanged compared to May. During June, the lowest metro jobless rate in the state was 4.9% in Northwest Arkansas and the highest rate was 8.7% in the Memphis-West Memphis area.

FORT SMITH METRO NUMBERS
Unemployed persons in the region totaled an estimated 8,071 during June, up from the 8,042 during May, but well below the 10,846 during June 2013.

The Fort Smith area manufacturing sector employed an estimated 18,400 in June, up from 18,200 in May, and unchanged compared to June 2013. Sector employment is down almost 36% from a decade ago when June 2004 manufacturing employment in the metro area stood at 28,500. Also, the annual average monthly employment in manufacturing has fallen from 28,900 in 2005, 19,200 in 2012, and to 18,300 in 2013.

Jobs in the Trade, Transportation and Utilities sector — the region’s largest job sector —  totaled 24,400 in June, up from 24,300 in May, and above the 23,700 during June 2013. Employment in the sector reached a high of 25,700 in December 2007.

Employment in the region’s tourism industry was 9,600 during June, down from 9,700 in May and above the 9,400 in June 2013. The sector reached an employment high of 9,800 in August 2008.

In Education & Health Services, employment was 16,300 during June, down from 16,500 in May and below the 17,000 during June 2013. Annual average monthly employment in the sector has steadily grown since 2005 when it reached 14,000. In 2012 the average was 17,000, but fell slightly to 16,800 in 2013. Employment in the sector reached a record 17,300 in October 2012.

In the Government sector, employment was 18,800 during June, down compared to 19,700 in May and unchanged compared to June 2013.

NATIONAL NUMBERS
Unemployment rates were lower in June than a year earlier in 359 of the 372 metropolitan areas, higher in 10 areas, and unchanged in three areas, noted the broad BLS report.

The U.S. unemployment rate in June was 6.1%, down from 7.5% from a year earlier. Arkansas’ jobless rate was 6.2% in June, down from 6.4% in May and down from 7.6% in June 2013.

Oklahoma’s jobless rate during June was 4.5%, down from 4.6% in May, and down compared to 5.5% in June 2013. The Missouri jobless rate during June was 6.5%, down from 6.6% in May and below the 6.8% in June 2013.

ARKANSAS METRO AREAS
Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers
June 2014: 4.9%
May 2014: 4.9%
June 2013: 6.1%

Fort Smith
June 2014: 6.4%
May 2014: 6.3%
June 2013: 8.2%

Hot Springs
June 2014: 6.5%
May 2014: 6.4%
June 2013: 7.9%

Jonesboro
June 2014: 6%
May 2014: 5.8%
June 2013: 7.5%

Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway
June 2014: 5.8%
May 2014: 5.8%
June 2013: 7%

Memphis-West Memphis
June 2014: 8.7%
May 2014: 7.5%
June 2013: 10%

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Pine Bluff
June 2014: 8.6%
May 2014: 8.4%
June 2013: 10.5%

Texarkana
June 2014: 6.3%
May 2014: 6.1%
June 2013: 7.5%

FORT SMITH METRO AREA HISTORY
Past annual average unemployment rates
2013: 8%
2012: 7.7%
2011: 8.3%
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%

Five Star Votes: 
Average: 5 (4 votes)

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Comments

These numbers are depressing

These numbers are so depressing. I have a small business here offering professional services and have for a long time, but I don't think I can hang on much longer. Small businesses like mine that rely on a local clientele suffer when the people suffer. If you aren't making money, we aren't making money. We've lost thousands of good paying manufacturing jobs in this area. We've lost factories that provide jobs and business for local businesses that provided them goods and services. We've added a few jobs recently, but those jobs don't pay well. People take what they can get now, work for much less than they used to make or than they could make somewhere else. I hate to say it, but Fort Smith is a dying town. Expect to see more and more people leaving and less and less money in our economy to support the businesses that remain.

The Facts Are

We have a city manager who has no idea how to create a business friendly environment and we have a BOD who follow the city manager like a pack of puppies so what do you expect? We have 2 BOD members that are leaving because they can't deal with the rest of the crony BOD who constantly try to over ride their calls for more transparency in city government. Its just a mess and now we find out that our only newspaper is moving to NW Arkansas and laying off their paper printing staff so I guess we will all have to depend on The City Wire for any real news about what is really going on in this dying city.

Now we are in trouble

if we have to rely on this site for unbiased news reporting.

Hey Fud Puc

The professional writers at The City Wire are doing a great job of reporting the real facts to the people of Fort Smith so I hope you are just complaining about some of the comments from discouraged citizens who don't approve of the lack of transparency, over the top spending, and secret backroom meetings at City Hall. Keep up the great work City Wire Staff and keep the comments from citizens coming because its the only venue for the people to speak their minds. We all have suspected for a long time that letters to the editor in the newspaper are selected with bias and we only see the letters that agree with the editors political views.

Censors

This site tends to be as controlling as those you mention. If your opinion doesn't mesh with theirs then it is out!

More Facts

the two are leaving because they came in with a preconceived agenda. They weren't compromisers except for trading trash votes for dog votes. They held their own set of non-transparent meetings and barely transparent meetings (remember the SWTimes calling them out for the El Lorito meeting and for trying to pork barrel spend restricted federal grant money). And then they dared to scream foul.

Now That's A Joke Threwital

Who are you trying to kid with that nonsense? Check your facts because Settle and Gosack hold the record for meetings away from the eyes of the public and your pork barrel comment isn't even close to the truth because the big G is the pork barrel king!

More Than Depressing

Heard that the Times Record Newspaper is Moving all their printing to NW Arkansas and all those jobs will be lost and on the radio this morning a top official from City Hall in Fort Smith was talking about how great things are in Fort Smith. Duh

What a Bunch of Cry Babies

Sure we are in a post industrial period in our history. The old factory jobs are gone and they aren't coming back. We are no better or worse off than many other places and much better than some other places in Arkansas. We have the usual trolls blaming our city government for everything that does not please them. Unless of course it is Obama's fault. But, I see help wanted signs in windows and the advertisements in the paper. Why are these jobs going unfilled. Of course one reason is that they require skills that a high school education does not supply. I have read that the trucking industry is desperate for drivers. One who really wants to work can do something. I think we have too many who, when they were laid off from their factory jobs, have just drawn the unemployment and felt sorry for themselves. We as a community just need to grow a set and get busy. I, for one am very tired of the "poor pitiful me" attitude around here.
Sure we are in a post industrial period in our history. The old factory jobs are gone and they aren't coming back. We are no better or worse off than many other places and much better than some other places in Arkansas. We have the usual trolls blaming our city government for everything that does not please them. Unless of course it is Obama's fault. But, I see help wanted signs in windows and the advertisements in the paper. Why are these jobs going unfilled. Of course one reason is that they require skills that a high school education does not supply. I have read that the trucking industry is desperate for drivers. One who really wants to work can do something. I ...>> Read the entire comment.

jobs

The Observer has a very valid point. Why are there "help wanted" signs in front of businesses for such a long time. The "unemployed" folks can't read? When someone does apply for a job they may be required to pass a drug screen. Oh well, that check just keeps coming in, test or no test...... Until we stop paying people more to sit at home than work, it will never get any better.

Libs

You can put a large amount of blame on the libs for creating this entitlement society.

Observor's illusions

I don't suppose you'd tell us where you saw those 'help wanted' signs in the windows would ya? Basically if a town loses 5,000 $30,000 a year jobs, it takes $150 million worth of some kind of jobs to replace them. For example $2.8 million would pretty much negate 30 good jobs from participating in the economy all by itself. Personally I'm not falling for a thousand part time jobs just took care of it so now let's go for higher taxes.

Take Your Meds Observer Because

This area is known to all as welfare heaven so help wanted signs in the window are ignored. Judge for yourself why we have this problem but my opinion is that we have made it very easy for people not to work in our community by giving to the able who refuse to work.

Actually

I disagree with the previous posters interpretation of the results. The results clearly indicate that the Fort Smith economy is improving very nicely. The only economy in the state doing better than Fort Smith now is NWA. Fort Smith's economy's improvement now outranks all others in the state including Jonesboro, Little Rock, Hot Springs, Conway, etc. In fact, Arkansas Tech University's statewide economic report has the Fort Smith economy as the best in the state for the last two months in a row. Fort Smith lost thousands of manufacturing jobs in the previous few years as did most other communities in the US. In fact, NWA just lost 500 manufacturing jobs from Superior Industries so that the jobs can be moved to Mexico for cheaper wages. Fort Smith has actually done a very nice job of recovering from this national loss of manufacturing jobs that affected us so much. It took a few years to recover, but Fort Smith is definitely recovering. Now, let the haters (both of you) begin their bashing. The same two people will now post a dozen responses trashing anything and everything Fort Smith. They will use a plethora of pseudonyms in order to make it appear that there are more than two of them.

Observer's Rant & "Actually", Where Is The Evidence?

"Actually", are you and Observer both city management, or do you just network around city management? Do you always rant and not talk facts? Unlike Observer, I feel pretty fortunate about having a job in Fort Smith and unlike Observer, I know many workers who haven't been quite as fortunate. NWA may have lost 500 manufacturing jobs, but with 24 families moving into NWA every day and new jobs opening, it won't create much of a ripple. Observer stated many unemployed ex-manufacturing people weren't doing too much about bettering themselves because he had seen all types of "Help Wanted" signs and ads for such. Maybe he should apply for one to get a feel for the market? Most folks in Fort Smith are hard workers, but find it difficult to start or do business in the city for various reasons. Fort Smith has the lowest median Household incomes, the slowest growth, the highest tax rate and when you compare Fort Smith to a mature city like Jonesboro, who isn't in NWA, but has a cheaper tax rate, less water/sewer rates and no charge for trash removal, I have to ask, how can they do that Observer? Do you think any of that may hurt new business or keep large companies from coming into Fort Smith? Maybe the high water rate was one reason Whirlpool closed? All other Arkansas cities with any significant size are growing and the working class is prospering. Shouldn't Growth and Incomes determine how well an economy is doing? So I ask, "Actually", what did you and Arkansas Tech measure to arrive at Fort Smith being the best economy in the state? Please elaborate. City-data.com has it this way: Conway 45% growth, median household income $47,516, Jonesboro 26% growth, income $43,353, Springdale 60% growth, income $38,800, Rogers 52% growth, income $50,300, Bentonville 94% growth, income $60,273 and Fayetteville 33% growth, income $36,689 and Fort Smith clipping along at 8% growth and income of $35,989. Maybe we need to go back to having elected folks running the city? Do you think that would create more competition and accountability therefore spread the wealth around a bit more?
"Actually", are you and Observer both city management, or do you just network around city management? Do you always rant and not talk facts? Unlike Observer, I feel pretty fortunate about having a job in Fort Smith and unlike Observer, I know many workers who haven't been quite as fortunate. NWA may have lost 500 manufacturing jobs, but with 24 families moving into NWA every day and new jobs opening, it won't create much of a ripple. Observer stated many unemployed ex-manufacturing people weren't doing too much about bettering themselves because he had seen all types of "Help Wanted" signs and ads for such. Maybe he should apply for one to get a feel for the ...>> Read the entire comment.

Amen Jack

They can't deny the numbers and Fort Smith is right near the bottom in growth and family income next to Pine Bluff and the crony spin won't work. Thanks for getting the real truth out to the people and even the our newspaper is moving to NW Arkansas.

I love it when you do this

After having done it yourself for years upon end, which includes even carrying on a conversation with yourself here many many times, the tables have been turned so now you cry 'foul' on the other side. I have a feeling some regulars here such as yourself Actual, are getting the idea all this hubbub the city is going through might slow their pet projects so now they are pretending everything's fine over at city hall. They have for years been willing to put up with any mess as long as they got enough of what they wanted themselves. Problemo..we just want the messes fixed.

Fixing The Mess At City Hall

The first step is understanding that we have a mess and then correcting the problems one at a time. The guy that we have in charge now just can't get it done so why does he keep his job? Could it be that some folks don't want the mess fixed?

Something needs to change

I personally have no idea why Fort Smith is dying, but you'd have to be blind to not see that this town is going downhill fast. Anyone who tries to tell us everything is just wonderful here is peeing on our necks and telling us it's raining. I do not believe it's because we don't have enough qualified workers or that people here are too "liberal." We just keep losing jobs and what jobs we have don't pay well. The state and the feds do wage data surveys and wages are low in Fort Smith compared to many other areas for the same jobs. Average earnings and average household incomes are horrible. We don't have many jobs here and they don't pay well. I hear a lot of complaining about city leadership, building inspectors and all sports of things, but don't know enough about any of these issues to know what to believe. I do know though that we keep losing businesses. Nobody wants to do business here. Is it just the economy? Is our city unfriendly to businesses? Why would our newspaper leave? Why would businesses want to be in NWA where rents and property prices are higher and workers make more money? Do we need to clean house in our city government? I honestly don't know. I just know it's darned near impossible to make a living here in my particular profession and I need to leave. Incomes for my profession are less than half the national average and really low for Arkansas too. The "median" is way less than half the national "median," meaning half in a particular job make more and the other half make less. That's not the fault of city government, or that there are not enough people to do the work or, or that people are too liberal or on drugs or anything like that. It's the national and local economy and not enough business that kills us. But most people who make their money from local business are suffering in this town because we're not growing, the economy is in the tank, people aren't getting paid well on average and too many are out of work or working for a small fraction of what they could make somewhere else, and that makes it such that there is less money to spend new cars, houses, fancy stuff to put in houses, going out to eat, cosmetic dentistry, anything that isn't absolutely necessary. The more jobs we lose, the worse it's going to get. More businesses will shut down and we'll lose more jobs. With a so few jobs and so many looking for work pay and benefits and so on will be low. Why bend over backwards taking care of employees when there are plenty out there who would love to have their jobs? Employers cut labor costs when they can get away with it, and they can get away it here in Fort Smith because people are lucky just to have jobs. God I hate this place. I've been here since 1972 and have watched it go down so far and it surprises me not one bit that our metro area keeps showing up in Gallup's well-being index as one of the most miserable places in America. I keep hearing Ray Baker with his sissified voice saying, "Life's worth living in Fort Smith, Arkansas!" Bless his heart and God rest his soul, but life is better for most most everywhere else but here.

If I were you and......

If I hated Fort Smith as much as you apparently do, I believe I would just find a way to move to that place where the grass is greener. I ended up here in 1976 and always said if I had a chance, I would move back to my hometown. However, my circumstances now would allow me to do that, but I'm staying here. If it is your desire to do so, you can always find something that you dislike about the city where you live. But, instead, I choose to find something I like about Fort Smith. Sure, I get aggravated with the BOD, the taxes, the inefficiency of some of our city departments, etc. But the good outweighs the bad, in my opinion and, again, I would suggest that you just pack up and move to a perfect town........ that is, if you can find one.

It didn't help when the perfectionists really got going

The perfect old neighborhood, the perfect downtown area, the perfect business, the perfect way to park, the perfect way to handle your dog, the perfect tree, the perfect trash method, the perfect billboard, the perfect way to deal with signs, the perfect everything. From the 1980's and well into the next century if it wasn't a perfect business you were opening get ready for a fight with our local 'drive-by' complainers. Even now as we are carving out perfect corridors to a future perfect museum..I see cranes, I see grinding, I see new windows, I see painting, I see $100k stoplights replacing others that work fine, I see houses being bulldozed or awaiting more pressure before they give in, I see inappropriate businesses sitting there doomed, I wonder where the bus station is going and where the homeless are for the most part hiding these days. Building a perfect place for people to come that haven't cracked a smile in decades I'd say. Strangely enough I just visited a place with the sidewalks packed with tourists 7 days a week casually sidestepping homeless some of which were actually part of the free if you choose, entertainment there. The main venue which people come from all around the world to see was if anything best described as quite run down yet continually jam packed with people because it is so interesting. I digress. Now it looks like something may be going on at the upper echelon here also. Que sera sera.

A Lot Needs To Change

Beautiful comment RatherNotSay because we have a local government that is totally out of control and has become a parasite that is about to consume the host. The "average" person who works for the city is paid over 62,000 dollars per year when the average family income in the city is a wee bit under 36,000 dollars per year so local government salaries are almost twice the total income of local families. Local government and their salaries have grown at an enormous rate while salaries in the private sector are shrinking because we are losing jobs and business at an alarming rate to communities that have the growth to support their local government.

True But Not True For Some

Yes, Forth Smith has some of the lowest wages and lowest average family incomes in the entire country but the civil servants that work for the city average over 62,000 dollars per year.