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Pulaski County's weekly wage average of $863 ranks the county at 169th nationally in counties with more than 75,000 workers, and is less than Little River County's average of $928, data released today by the Southwest office of the Bureau of U.S. Labor Statistics show. Two links to the bureau's data — for all counties in the U.S. and in interactive map form — offer every permutation of employment data you could possibly want. More highlights on jump.

· From December 2008 to December 2009, employment declined in the three largest Arkansas counties (Benton, Pulaski, and Washington) as it did in 325 of the 334 largest U.S. counties. However, the rates of decline in the three Arkansas counties were slower than the national decrease of 4.1 percent.

· Washington County's 3.9-percent wage gain from the fourth quarter of 2008 to the fourth quarter of 2009 was well above the national average of 2.5 percent and ranked 87th among the nation’s largest counties. Wages rose at a notably slower pace in the other large Arkansas counties. Pulaski registered a 1.6-percent wage increase and Benton, a 0.9-percent gain, ranking 247th and 280th, respectively. Average weekly wages for the state of Arkansas rose 2.5 percent, matching the national increase.

· While over-the-year wage growth in two of the large Arkansas counties ranked in the bottom-third nationally, their average weekly wages ranked higher. Pulaski County's average weekly wage of $863 ranked 169th, closely followed by Benton County at $854 and ranked 176th. Washington County’s average weekly wages were substantially lower ($774) and ranked 275th.

· All 72 smaller counties in Arkansas — those with employment below 75,000 — had average weekly wages lower the national average ($942). However, two of these, Little River ($928) and Calhoun ($923), reported average wages higher than those of the 3 large Arkansas counties and were within 2 percent of the national average. Cleveland County reported the lowest weekly wage in the State, averaging $442 in the fourth quarter of 2009.

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