Unemployment Falls Below 5 Percent in Metro

Statistics released today by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show the Northwest Arkansas metropolitan area had one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation last month.

The Northwest Arkansas area, which includes Benton, Madison and Washington counties in Arkansas and McDonald County, Mo., had an unemployment rate of 4.9 percent in September, down from 5.3 percent in August. Among 372 metropolitan areas in the U.S., Northwest Arkansas was among 41 with an unemployment rate below 5 percent.

"It's critical that we continue to grow jobs in Northwest Arkansas because we still have more than 11,000 people who want to go to work," said Mike Harvey, the Northwest Arkansas Council's chief operating officer. "There remains much work to do when it comes to improving economic opportunity in our region."

Arkansas’ unemployment rate was 6.5 percent in September. That was an improvement over August’s 7 percent. In September 2011, the unemployment rate statewide was 7.7 percent.

The nation’s unemployment rate in September was 7.6 percent.

Meanwhile, the Northwest Arkansas region’s labor force continued to grow.  There are 238,600 workers in the metropolitan area of Benton, Madison, Washington and McDonald counties. That’s 4,800 more workers than there were in the same month last year.

For complete labor force and unemployment statistics from across the nation, click here.