Arkansas Metros Show Wide Gap in Post-Recession Employment Rates

Arkansas Metros Show Wide Gap in Post-Recession Employment Rates

Although the unemployment rate gets the most attention, Arkansas economist Michael Pakko recently also looked at the employment rate in the state over the last year and since the Great Recession.

“Nonfarm payroll employment ended the year with monthly declines in Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Jonesboro, and Memphis,” said Pakko, chief economist at the Institute for Economic Advancement at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. “Little Rock was the only metro area in the state to experience a monthly increase.”

Compared with year-ago figures, five metro areas in the state experienced employment gains, ranging from 0.3 percent in Memphis to 2.4 percent in Fayetteville.

However, employment in four of the eight metro areas is still below the pre-recession levels of 10 years ago, Pakko noted. And two metro areas, Pine Bluff and Texarkana, have not yet rebounded to the levels of employment they saw several months after the end of the Great Recession (December 2007-June 2009).

Job growth has varied widely among the state’s metro areas since the recession, he said. For example, from the fourth quarter of 2007 through the fourth quarter of 2017, employment in Fayetteville increased by more than 22 percent, while employment in Pine Bluff declined by more than 14 percent.

Employment Changes in Arkansas Metro Areas

  Percentage change from Dec. 2017:
  Nov. 2017 Dec. 2016 Feb. 2010 Dec. 2007
Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers -0.6 2.4 28.2 21.8
Fort Smith -0.4 -0.7 0.9 -6.7
Hot Springs 0.0 1.1 2.7 -1.8
Jonesboro -0.2 0.5 18.3 16.1
Little Rock-NLR-Conway 0.3 0.8 7.6 2.9
Memphis -0.3 0.3 9.1 0.6
Pine Bluff 0.0 -1.8 -12.1 -14.6
Texarkana 0.0 0.0 -0.2 -2.6
Arkansas -0.5 0.9 8.5 3.4
U.S. 0.1 1.5 13.8 6.6

Seasonally adjusted data