Friday, March 19, 2010


All of Arkansas’ 8 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) saw a big jump in unemployment rates in January after months of steadiness, slow decreases or marginal gains.

According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, the jump in MSA unemployment was pronounced in a year-over-year comparison, but all metro regions of the state saw big jumps from December 2009 to January 2010, too.

While the big jump doesn’t look good, it may not be as bad as it looks, said economist Jeff Collins. He said the numbers likely reflect the reduction of jobs that end after the busy holiday retail period.

“This is not good news, but it’s not unexpected nor does it mean that the local economy is deteriorating faster than the state or national economy,” Collins said.

He added that high jobless rates at the local, state and national level also support his belief that an economic recovery may not result in a hiring recovery.

“Even though output is starting to recover, and we’re seeing that, we’re not seeing that translate into increased hiring, and, quite frankly, hiring lags because they (businesses) are more fully utilizing the labor they have instead of taking the risk of making new hires,” Collins said.

The Arkansas unemployment rate in January was 7.6%. The U.S. unemployment rate in January was 9.7%.

January 2010: 6.8%
January 2009: 5.8%
December 2009: 5.7%

Fort Smith
January 2010: 8.9%
January 2009: 7.7%
December 2009: 7.9%

Hot Springs
January 2010: 8.6%
January 2009: 7.2%
December 2009: 7.5%

January 2010: 8%
January 2009: 6.5%
December 2009: 7%

Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway
January 2010: 7.4%
January 2009: 5.9%
December 2009: 6.5%

Memphis-West Memphis
January 2010: 11.3%
January 2009: 8.7%
December 2009: 10.3%

Pine Bluff
January 2010: 10.5%
January 2009: 9.4%
December 2009: 9.7%

January 2010: 7.8%
January 2009: 5.8%
December 2009: 6.5%