Employment Trends in Central Arkansas

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According to the occupation and career information provided by the 2015 Arkansas Labor Market and Economic Report, Arkansas has seen vast improvements across several employment metrics between 2010 and 2015. The state still has a long way to go in order to completely recover from the broader downturn, but according to some key indicators, most geographic regions of the state are making measurable progress.

Population Growth

The population of Arkansas is growing, and the state added about 50,500 people between 2010 and early 2015. This puts the total population close to 3 million. Northwest Arkansas has seen the strongest population increase, while areas in the east, southeast, and southwest have seen population declines during this time.

Labor Force and Employment

Between 2013 and 2014, unemployment dropped dramatically in the state, reaching 6.1 percent and continuing to fall through the rest of that year and into 2015. By the summer of 2015, unemployment hovered at a new low of 5.7 percent. Reflecting population trends, northwest Arkansas saw the greatest levels of health in this area (a 4.4 percent rate during the summer). The southeast region, by contrast, struggled with the highest rate of 7.2 percent.

Recovery from the Recession

While slowly inching back into positive territory, the job market has not yet made a full recovery to prerecession levels, but new positions are expected to increase by 2.7 percent between 2014 and 2016. Goods-producing industries will add about 3,100 jobs during this period, while service-producing industries will add a promising 25,105 new jobs.

Between 2009 and 2013, personal per capita income in the state rose to $36,698. But the average income is still relatively low, equaling about 82 percent of the average across all states in the nation. In Arkansas’s urban areas, the cost of living remains well below that of other urban areas in the US.
What does this mean for employers?

As the state slowly but steadily moves beyond the economic downturn, new positions will become available, applicant pools will shift to reflect greater opportunity, and more potential candidates will move into the state in search of work. Employers searching for highly focused skill sets may continue to struggle with a skills gap, but an increasing population and a greater number of educated candidates will improve the outlook for hiring managers with specific needs.

For more on how to find, target, hire and retain the candidates that can help your company grow, reach out to the sourcing and staffing experts at CSS.

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