All Arkansas metro areas see increases in the number of unemployed in March

All Arkansas metro areas see increases in the number of unemployed in March

All metro areas in or connected to Arkansas posted jobless rate increases in March, with year-over-year increases in the number of unemployed ranging between 44% in Jonesboro to 4.8% in the Memphis-West Memphis area.

The unemployed in the Jonesboro metro was 2,629 in March, up from 1,826 in March 2019, a 44% jump. Other large percentage increases in unemployed included central Arkansas at 41.5% (4,652 more unemployed than March 2019), Northwest Arkansas at 39.3% (2,711 more unemployed) and the Pine Bluff metro at 36.8% (650 more unemployed).

As ugly as the March report is in terms of job losses, the month does not provide a full month look at economic disruption caused by businesses closures resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is anticipated that March will be seen as a transitional month, with the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and efforts to control its spread showing up in the data for April,” noted University of Arkansas Little Rock economist Michael Pakko.

Northwest Arkansas posted the largest year-over-year job gain in the March jobs report among the eight metro areas. The region had 6,191 new jobs between March 2019 and March 2020, a rise of 2.4%. The region had 277,322 jobs in March, up from the 271,131 jobs in March 2019.

The Jonesboro metro had the largest percentage year-over-year job growth with 2.74%. The lowest jobless rate among the eight metro areas was 3.3% in Northwest Arkansas, with the Pine Bluff metro having the highest rate at 6.9%.

The state’s jobless rate was 4.8% in March, well above the 3.5% in February and March 2019. The number of employed in Arkansas during March was an estimated 1,320,420, up 6,747 jobs compared with March 2019. The state’s labor force – the number of people eligible to work – was 1,386,748 in March, up 1.8% compared with the 1,361,942 in March 2019.

STATE, NATIONAL NUMBERS
The state’s jobless rate was 4.8% in March, well above the 3.5% in February and March 2019. The number of employed in Arkansas during March was an estimated 1,320,420, up 6,747 jobs compared with March 2019. The state’s labor force – the number of people eligible to work – was 1,386,748 in March, up 1.8% compared with the 1,361,942 in March 2019.

Unemployment rates were higher in March than a year earlier in 253 of the 389 metropolitan areas, lower in 123 areas, and unchanged in 13 areas. A total of 45 areas had jobless rates of less than 3% and 11 areas had rates of at least 10%. Nonfarm payroll employment increased over the year in 21 metropolitan areas, decreased in 1 area, and was essentially unchanged in the remaining 367 areas. The national unemployment rate in March was 4.5%, up from 3.9% a year earlier.

In March, Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina, Hawaii, and Urban Honolulu, Hawaii, had the lowest unemployment rates at 2.1% each, while El Centro, Calif., had the highest unemployment rate at 20.5 %.

METRO JOBS DATA
Following are labor market data for the eight metro areas.

Northwest Arkansas
Labor Force
March 2020: 286,927
March 2019: 278,115

Employment
March 2020: 277,322
March 2019: 271,131

Unemployed
March 2020: 9,605
March 2019: 6,894

Jobless Rate
March 2020: 3.3%
March 2019: 2.7%

Fort Smith Metro
Labor Force
March 2020: 119,035
March 2019: 118,290

Employment
March 2020: 114,076
March 2019: 114,159

Unemployed
March 2020: 4,959
March 2019: 4,131

Jobless Rate
March 2020: 4.2%
March 2019: 3.5%

Hot Springs
Labor Force
March 2020: 41,870
March 2019: 41,557

Employment
March 2020: 39,867
March 2019: 40,059

Unemployed
March 2020: 2,003
March 2019: 1,498

Jobless Rate
March 2020: 4.8%
March 2019: 3.6%

Jonesboro
Labor Force
March 2020: 67,744
March 2019: 65,204

Employment
March 2020: 65,115
March 2019: 63,378

Unemployed
March 2020: 2,629
March 2019: 1,826

Jobless Rate
March 2020: 3.9%
March 2019: 2.8%

Central Arkansas
Labor Force
March 2020: 358,847
March 2019: 359,094

Employment
March 2020: 342,990
March 2019: 347,889

Unemployed
March 2020: 15,857
March 2019: 11,205

Jobless Rate
March 2020: 4.4%
March 2019: 3.1%

Memphis/West Memphis
Labor Force
March 2020: 642,198
March 2019: 642,790

Employment
March 2020: 614,374
March 2019: 614,241

Unemployed
March 2020: 27,824
March 2019: 26,549

Jobless Rate
March 2020: 4.3%
March 2019: 4.1%

Pine Bluff
Labor Force
March 2020: 35,183
March 2019: 34,899

Employment
March 2020: 32,767
March 2019: 33,074

Unemployed
March 2020: 2,416
March 2019: 1,766

Jobless Rate
March 2020: 6.9%
March 2019: 5.1%

Texarkana (Arkansas-Texas)
Labor Force
March 2020: 65,685
March 2019: 65,051

Employment
March 2020: 62,154
March 2019: 62,177

Unemployed
March 2020: 3,531
March 2019: 2,874

Jobless Rate
March 2020: 5.4%
March 2019: 4.4%

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