April Report Shows Impact Of COVID-19 On Arkansas Metro Areas

losses in April compared with April 2019. The Hot Springs metro posted an April jobless rate of 15.3%, the highest rate among the eight metro areas in or connected to Arkansas.

The April numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show the first full month of COVID-19 disruption on the state economy. The number of unemployed in the central Arkansas metro was 37,385 in April, up 279.7% from the 9,846 in April 2019, and up 128.9% from the 16,331 unemployed in March. The region’s jobless rate was 10.9% in April, well above the 2.7% in April 2019.

Northwest Arkansas had 21,397 unemployed in April, up 254.6% from the 6,035 in April 2019 and up 118% from March. The region’s jobless rate was 8%, up from 2.2% in April 2019. The Fort Smith metro had 13,603 unemployed in April up 280.6% from the 3,574 in April 2019, and up 164.2% from the 5,149 in March. The region’s jobless rate was 11.9%, up from 3% in April 2019.

All metro areas in or connected to Arkansas posted jobless rate increases in April, with year-over-year increases in the jobless rate ranging from 15.3% in Hot Springs to 8% in Northwest Arkansas.

University of Arkansas Little Rock economist Michael Pakko said in March the April numbers would show the first “full impact” of COVID-19 on the state economy. Pakko said the April numbers show the metro areas took more of a hit than the rest of the state. The BLS reported May 22 that Arkansas’ jobless rate rose to 10.2% in April compared with 3.5% in April 2019. Arkansans without jobs in April totaled 133,962, up 178% from the 48,175 in April 2019 and well above the 69,728 unemployed in March. The state’s tourism sector had 33.7% fewer jobs year-over-year, the largest drop of any sector.

“With all metro areas recording percentage declines as large or larger than the Arkansas total, a clear implication is the non-metro areas of the state generally experienced smaller declines,” Pakko said of the metro jobless report for April.

NATIONAL NUMBERS
Unemployment rates were higher in April than a year earlier in all 389 metropolitan areas, according to the BLS report. 52 areas had jobless rates of less than 10% and 12 areas had rates of at least 25%. Nonfarm payroll employment decreased over the year in 377 metropolitan areas and was essentially unchanged in 12 areas. The national unemployment rate in April was 14.4%, not seasonally adjusted, up from 3.3% a year earlier.

Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina, Hawaii, had the highest unemployment rate in April ad 35%, followed by Kokomo, Ind., at 34.1%. Logan, Utah-Idaho, had the lowest unemployment rate at 6.2%.

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

Northwest Arkansas
Labor Force
April 2020: 267,670
April 2019: 278,231

Employment
April 2020: 246,273
April 2019: 272,204

Unemployed
April 2020: 21,397
April 2019: 6,035

Jobless Rate
April 2020: 8%
April 2019: 2.2%

Fort Smith Metro
Labor Force
April 2020: 114,295
April 2019: 118,090

Employment
April 2020: 100,692
April 2019: 114,516

Unemployed
April 2020: 13,603
April 2019: 3,574

Jobless Rate
April 2020: 11.9%
April 2019: 3%

Hot Springs
Labor Force
April 2020: 40,003
April 2019: 41,662

Employment
April 2020: 33,887
April 2019: 40,393

Unemployed
April 2020: 6,116
April 2019: 1,269

Jobless Rate
April 2020: 15.3%
April 2019: 3%

Jonesboro
Labor Force
April 2020: 64,258
April 2019: 65,364

Employment
April 2020: 58,458
April 2019: 63,787

Unemployed
April 2020: 5,800
April 2019: 1,577

Jobless Rate
April 2020: 9%
April 2019: 2.4%

Central Arkansas
Labor Force
April 2020: 344,518
April 2019: 358,898

Employment
April 2020: 307,133
April 2019: 349,052

Unemployed
April 2020: 37,385
April 2019: 9,846

Jobless Rate
April 2020: 10.9%
April 2019: 2.7%

Memphis/W. Memphis
Labor Force
April 2020: 598,956
April 2019: 640,352

Employment
April 2020: 522,735
April 2019: 616,661

Unemployed
April 2020: 76,221
April 2019: 23,691

Jobless Rate
April 2020: 12.7%
April 2019: 3.7%

Pine Bluff
Labor Force
April 2020: 32,753
April 2019: 34,805

Employment
April 2020: 29,369
April 2019: 33,221

Unemployed
April 2020: 3,384
April 2019: 1,584

Jobless Rate
April 2020: 10.3%
April 2019: 4.6%

Texarkana (AR-TX)
Labor Force
April 2020: 60,404
April 2019: 64,827

Employment
April 2020: 52,074
April 2019: 62,441

Unemployed
April 2020: 8,330
April 2019: 2,431

Jobless Rate
April 2020: 13.8%
April 2019: 3.7%

To read the full article on the Talk Business and Politics website click here.