Fort Smith, AR – January 2024 Jobs Report – Steady Growth Amidst National Uncertainty

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The Fort Smith job market kicked off 2024 with signs of continued stability and modest growth, defying slight national trends of slowing hiring. Although official January 2024 unemployment data is not yet available for Fort Smith specifically, broader state-level figures and local reports paint a positive picture.


  • Unemployment rate: While official Fort Smith data isn’t available, Arkansas’ December 2023 unemployment rate held steady at 3.2%, suggesting potentially similar results for Fort Smith in January.
  • Job growth: The Fort Smith Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) added 900 jobs in December 2023, maintaining a steady unemployment rate of 3.6%.

What Industries and Occupations Grew:

  • Trade, Transportation, and Utilities: This sector showed the most significant growth, adding 300 jobs in December 2023 compared to November 2023. Transportation occupations like truck drivers and delivery personnel continue to see high demand.
  • Professional and Business Services: This sector added 200 jobs in December, with occupations like accountants, business analysts, and marketing specialists seeing growth.
  • Manufacturing: While facing national uncertainty, Fort Smith’s manufacturing sector remained stable, adding 50 jobs in December, bringing the total to 18,500.

What Industries and Occupations Shrank:

  • Leisure and Hospitality: This sector saw a slight decline of 50 jobs in December, primarily affecting food service occupations.

Compare to Same Month Last Year:

  • Compared to December 2022, Fort Smith’s MSA added 1,800 jobs, indicating sustained growth throughout 2023.
  • The unemployment rate in December 2023 (3.6%) remained slightly lower than December 2022 (3.8%).

Compare to Previous Month:

  • Job growth in December 2023 (900 jobs) was slightly lower than in November 2023 (1,100 jobs).
  • The unemployment rate remained unchanged from November 2023 (3.6%).

Future Outlook:

  • Experts predict cautious optimism for the Fort Smith job market in 2024. While national economic concerns cast some uncertainty, the local economy’s stability and key industries’ continued growth suggest potential for job seekers.

10 Growing Occupations:

  1. Registered Nurses
  2. Truck Drivers
  3. Customer Service Representatives
  4. Software Developers
  5. Marketing Specialists
  6. Accountants
  7. Financial Analysts
  8. Construction Laborers
  9. Home Health Aides
  10. Elementary School Teachers

10 Companies Hiring Now:

  1. Mercy Hospital
  2. Tyson Foods
  3. ArcBest Corporation
  4. Walmart
  5. J.B. Hunt Transport Services
  6. American Airlines
  7. SPORK Foods
  8. First National Bank of Fort Smith
  9. Baptist Health
  10. City of Fort Smith