Fort Smith metro workforce declines 4.14% in July, jobless rate rises to 6.5%

The Fort Smith regional economy workforce, which appeared to be stabilizing during the past year, took a negative turn in July with a 4.14% decline. The number of employed in the metro fell 2.35% in July compared to July 2013.

The metro jobless rate rose to 6.5% in July compared to 6.4% in June, but was lower than the 8.2% 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 Fort Smith regional workforce during July was 125,055, down from 127,049 during June, and well below the 130,458 during July 2013s. The labor force reached a revised high of 140,253 in June 2007, meaning the July workforce size is down 10.83% from the peak number.

The number of employed in the Fort Smith region totaled 116,936 in July, down from 118,964 in June, and an estimated 2,820 jobs below the 119,756 employed in July 2013.

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.

Unemployed persons in the region totaled an estimated 8,119 during July, up from the 8,085 during June, but well below the 10,702 during July 2013.

The Fort Smith area manufacturing sector employed an estimated 18,100 in July, down from 18,400 in June, and down from 18,400 July 2013. Sector employment is down almost 36% from a decade ago when July 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 totaled 24,400 during July 2013, unchanged compared to June and above the 23,800 in July 2013. Employment in the sector reached a high of 25,700 in December 2007.

Employment in the region’s tourism industry was 9,800 during July, up from 9,700 in June and above the 9,500 in July 2013. The July numbers, if not revised, will tie a record for employment in the sector first set in August 2008.

In Education & Health Services, employment was 15,600 during July, down from 16,300 in June and below the 16,700 during July 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 16,500 during July, down compared to 18,800 in June and below the 16,500 July 2013.

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.

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%

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%

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%

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

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%

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Great Report And More Proof

Fort Smith is headed in the wrong direction! 15,000 less people working is a shocking number for a city the size of our city and something needs to be done to stop this trend.

If you read more....

and even read the NWA report, you see that EVERY metro area in the state of Arkansas had similar declines. So obviously the whole state is heading in the wrong direction. But, we need to bash FS for everything. I'm not saying there aren't times we need to call out our city leaders. This isn't one of them.

Excuses, excuses

So when the rest of the state is prospering yet Fort Smith is faltering, what's the excuse then? The same as it is now. Local government racketeers still make out like bandits in this hole in the wall town. What better place to exploit than a city in the middle of nowhere. Fort Smith? Is that in Canada somewhere ?

I Have No Problem

with a few screw ups by city leaders because we all are guilty of a few blunders but this bunch has over flowed the sink and backed up the sewers. Its looks really ugly when we look around at neighbor progressive communities that seem to hit the target more than they miss.

Just Saying

We are seeing some progress now thanks to all the input from concerned citizens but we have also seen a large amount of bone head moves by city leaders that have hurt the job market, business, and the economy. The time is always right to keep the pressure on city leaders to be more business friendly because we don't want a return to the days of good ole boy favors done just for a few good ole boys who support this activity. The playing field should always be fair where opportunity exists regardless of family status so lets keep the suggestions coming on The City Wire because we can't depend on the newspaper to print comments that differ from their opinions. If the City Leaders can't stand the heat then maybe they should get out of the kitchen because we are all in it together and have a right to express our opinions.

Wrong Direction????

I agree that this many people not working is a trend that needs to be remedied, yet I'm looking around and in my opinon things are starting to look up. The bldg permits are up this year, the enplanements are up this year, Trane is hiring back hundreds of employees, ARCorp is going to start bldg a new complex in Chaffee which will add hundreds of jobs, many vacant downtown bldgs are being occupied (Town Club and the big whtie bldg). Later this year the Marshall's Museum is going to break ground,t he water park will be ready by next year, the new softball fields will be done. Today a new pipeline will be built running to the south of Fort Smith will add another hundred to the ares. I agree that this article showed a downward trend, I think that in the future you'll see us start to head upward and forward. This is just the start there a many other that I can't think of right now, but next year I expect that jobless rate to drop dramatically.

Growth Spurt

I hope you are right, Bryan? If so, a wise person would take the opportunity to sell-off and leave Fort Smith before the "flash in the pan" extinguishes itself thanks to misguided city leadership. I suspect all that is good is happening outside of municipal crony influence. Don't worry though, they will get their piece of the action before it's all over.

You Are So Right Flash

Try selling a piece of commercial property in Fort Smith when there are 500 empty commercial buildings and try selling your house if you are in the wrong neighborhood and you will find it almost impossible. Not many takers want to come here but a lot of people would just love to sell and leave so what's the answer Flash?

Cut your losses

Sell at a loss if you must. Cut your losses and move to a winning community. An immediate improvement.

500 Empty Commercial Buildings

If I remember correctly it was the Fort Smith Fire Marshal who said keeping a watch on this number of empty commercial buildings in Fort Smith was putting extreme pressure on the resources of the fire department. I can't imagine what it would be like trying to sell a piece of commercial property with such a glut of empty buildings.

501 - The bus station has been chased away now

and it has moved in with someone else about as far as it could get from it's former 'Hell On the Border' location. The same one's behind pushing the building into our local rental abyss would now have it taxed just to teach them a lesson. IMO this town has problems in the middle too which have ended up costing it far more over the years than whatever else is going on. They both must be solved before we get back on the right track.

Explain Yourself Bryan

"but next year I expect the jobless rate to drop dramatically" Hope with all my heart that you are correct but what will make this happen? A 15,000 person loss of jobs in Fort Smith is almost 11% of the total Fort Smith payroll so what are you telling us will happen to add 15,000 jobs and more because we need 22,000 jobs added just to match the growth percent of other near communities over the last few years?????

Just One More Year

Bryan Hopes his crony buddies at City Hall can pull a rabbit out of their hats by next year and maybe create some employment opportunity but next year the word will be next year again. It kind of reminds me of the beer sign that says "free beer tomorrow" but tomorrow will still be tomorrow, tomorrow!

Bryan Is Expecting

the jobless rate to dramatically drop next year in Fort Smith but offers no clue or explanation to back up his statement. Please tell what magical events you are expecting to make this a reality for the thousands of displaced workers.

Sales Tax

Now that there is a increase in collections, it would be a good time to take food off gthe local sales tax--when it is voted on next year

Are You Serious Blue

Gosack and crew can't wait to take another stab at a prepared food tax and can you imagine going to your favorite supermarket and paying a little extra for your prepared bean salad or sliced bakery bread? Are we really paying these people with our valuable tax dollars to create these nonsensical issues?