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Jobless rate rises to 5.2% in Northwest Arkansas, workforce declines 3.5%

Northwest Arkansas’ regional economy continues to be the state’s most robust, but the size of the metro workforce declined 3.58% in July compared to July 2013, and the number of employed dipped 0.41% year-over-over.

The July jobless rate of 5.3% was above the June rate of 4.9%,  but below the 6.3% in July 2013. July marked the 13th consecutive month the NWA metro jobless rate has been below 6%.

Metro employment of 221,356 was slightly below the 222,972 in June, and also below the 222,272 in July 2013, according to figures released Wednesday (Aug. 27) by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The July numbers are subject to revision.

The size of the Northwest Arkansas regional workforce during July was estimated at 233,668, down from the revised 233,438 in June, but 3.58% below the 237,253 during July 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 of the eight metro areas in or connected to Arkansas had jobless rate increases in July compared to June, but all had jobless rate declines compared to July 2013. During July, the lowest metro jobless rate in the state was 5.3% in Northwest Arkansas and the highest rate was 9.2% in the Pine Bluff area.

NWA METRO NUMBERS
Following are other key figures from the BLS metro report.

Unemployed persons in the region totaled 12,312 during July, up from the 11,466 during June and more than the 14,981 during July 2013.

The Northwest Arkansas manufacturing sector employed an estimated 26,300 in July, unchanged from June, and down from the 26,600 during July 2013. Sector employment is down more than 21% from more than a decade ago when July 2004 manufacturing employment in the metro area stood at 33,300.

Jobs in the Trade, Transportation and Utilities sector — the region’s largest job sector —  totaled 46,700 in July, below the revised 47,100 during June, and down from the 47,900 in July 2013. The sector reached record employment of 50,500 in December 2006.

Employment in the region’s tourism industry was 22,600 during July, down from a record of 22,700 in June and up from 21,800 during July 2013.

In Education & Health Services, employment was 24,400 during July, down from 24,500 in June and up from 23,300 during July 2013. May employment of 24,900 set a record for the sector.

In the Government sector, employment was 28,700 during July, down from 30,800 in June and up compared to 27,900 during July 2013.

NATIONAL NUMBERS
Unemployment rates were lower in July than a year earlier in 348 of the 372 metropolitan areas, higher in 16 areas, and unchanged in eight areas, noted the broad BLS report.

The U.S. unemployment rate in July was 6.2%, down from 7.3% from a year earlier. Arkansas’ jobless rate was 6.2% in July, down from 6.3% in June and down from 7.7% in July 2013.

Oklahoma’s jobless rate during July was 4.6%, up from 4.5% in June, and down compared to 5.6% in July 2013. The Missouri jobless rate during July was 6.5%, down from 6.6% in June and below the 6.8% in July 2013.

ARKANSAS METRO AREAS
Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers
July 2014: 5.3%
June 2014: 4.9%
July 2013: 6.3%

Fort Smith
July 2014: 6.5%
June 2014: 6.4%
July 2013: 8.2%

Hot Springs
July 2014: 6.7%
June 2014: 6.5%
July 2013: 8.1%

Jonesboro
July 2014: 6.1%
June 2014: 6%
July 2013: 7.8%

Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway
July 2014: 6%
June 2014: 5.8%
July 2013: 7.2%

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Memphis-West Memphis
July 2014: 8.9%
June 2014: 8.7%
July 2013: 9.6%

Pine Bluff
July 2014: 9.2%
June 2014: 8.6%
July 2013: 10.9%

Texarkana
July 2014: 6.5%
June 2014: 6.3%
July 2013: 7.7%

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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