DALLAS (News Release)- Employment rose in two of the three large Arkansas counties from December 2018 to December 2019, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. (Large counties are those with 2018 annual average employment levels of 75,000 or more.) Acting Regional Commissioner Michael Hirniak noted Benton County’s 3.0-percent rate of job growth ranked 20th and Washington County’s 1.8-percent job gain ranked 86th among the 355 large counties nationwide. Pulaski County’s employment fell 0.5 percent over the year, ranking 314th. (See table 1.)
Nationally, employment increased 1.2 percent over the year with 285 of the 355 largest U.S. counties
reporting increases. Cleveland, OK, had the largest percentage increase in the country, up 5.8 percent over the year. Ector, TX, had the largest over-the-year percentage decrease in employment with a loss of 4.2 percent.
Among the three largest counties in Arkansas, employment was highest in Pulaski County (253,300) in December 2019. Benton and Washington Counties had employment levels of 125,500 and 111,600,
respectively. Together, the three largest Arkansas counties accounted for 39.8 percent of total
employment within the state. Nationwide, the 355 largest counties made up 73.7 percent of total U.S.
From the fourth quarter of 2018 to the fourth quarter of 2019, Benton County had the largest percentage increase in average weekly wages among Arkansas’s large counties, up 4.0 percent. (See table 1.) Benton also recorded the highest average weekly wage among the state’s large counties at $1,113. Nationally, the average weekly wage increased 3.5 percent from a year ago to $1,185 in the fourth quarter of 2019.
Employment and wage levels (but not over-the-year changes) are also available for the 72 counties in Arkansas with employment levels below 75,000. Wage levels in all of these smaller counties were
below the national average in December 2019. (See table 2.)
Large county wage changes
Average weekly wages in Benton County increased 4.0 percent, which ranked 109th among the 355
largest U.S. counties. Both Pulaski and Washington County had a 3.0-percent increase in average
weekly wages, each ranking 203rd.
Large county average weekly wages
Average weekly wage levels in the state’s three large counties were below the nationwide average
($1,185) in the fourth quarter of 2019. Benton County’s average weekly wage of $1,113 ranked 139th
among the 355 large U.S. counties. Weekly wages in Pulaski ($1,010) and Washington Counties
($1,009) ranked 219th and 220th, respectively.
Of the 355 large U.S. counties, 262 reported average weekly wages below the national average of
$1,185. Cameron, TX, reported the lowest weekly wage ($701), followed by Hidalgo, TX ($705) and
Horry, SC ($721).
Nationally, 93 large counties registered average weekly wages at or above the U.S. average in the fourth quarter of 2019. Santa Clara, CA, held the top position with an average weekly wage of $2,825. Santa Clara’s average weekly wage was more than four times the average weekly wage in the lowest-ranked county, Cameron, TX ($701).
Average weekly wages in Arkansas’s smaller counties
All 72 of Arkansas’s smaller counties – those with employment of less than 75,000 – reported weekly
wages below the national average of $1,185 in the fourth quarter of 2019. Among these smaller
counties, two had average weekly wages greater than $1,000: Calhoun ($1,130) and Mississippi
($1,090). The lowest weekly wage was in Searcy ($546).
When all 75 counties in Arkansas were considered, 10 reported average weekly wages under $650, 39 reported wages from $650 to $749, 14 had wages from $750 to $849, and 12 averaged $850 or more per week. (See chart 1.) Higher-paying counties were generally located around the metropolitan areas of Blytheville, Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Little Rock, Texarkana, and along the southern border of the state. The lowest-paying counties were primarily concentrated along or near the northern border of the state.
Additional statistics and other information
QCEW data for states have been included in table 3. For additional information about
quarterly employment and wages data, please read the Technical Note or visit www.bls.gov/cew.
Employment and Wages Annual Averages Online features comprehensive information by detailed
industry on establishments, employment, and wages for the nation and all states. The 2018 edition of
this publication, which was published in September 2019, contains selected data produced by Business Employment Dynamics (BED) on job gains and losses, as well as selected data from the first quarter 2019 version of this news release. Tables and additional content from the 2018 edition of Employment and Wages Annual Averages Online are now available at www.bls.gov/cew/publications/employmentand-wages-annual-averages/2018/home.htm. The 2019 edition of Employment and Wages Annual Averages Online will be available in September 2020.
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