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Employment Opportunities and Trends In Jonesboro, Arkansas

Updated on November 6, 2014
Eastern Bluebird in Arkansas.
Eastern Bluebird in Arkansas. | Source

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Craighead County, Arkansas is governed by not one, but two separate County Seats, one of which is Jonesboro. However, Jonesboro is the leading economic center of the county, It is also a college town named to the Top 20 College Towns in America. This makes Jonesboro a smart city, especially since the local century-old Arkansas State University is a renowned school nationwide, founded back in 1909.

Agriculture has contributed a large portion of the local economy since the 1800s, but Healthcare has developed as a major industry as well. The railroad transport system was joined in the 1950s by heavy trucking as an additional and successful method of transporting important agricultural products. Overall, Jonesboro is a medical and commercial hub regionally for over one half million people.

The country was formed from portions of other counties in 1859, under the support and advocacy of Senator William Jones. His opposition in this matter was Senator Thomas Craighead, who wished not to lose a large part of Buffalo Island to the newly proposed county lands. To solve the dispute, Jones pushed through the legislation while Craighead was out of the room, but was able to have the county named for his opposition. Craighead apparently re-entered the State Senate Chamber and, discovering the honor bestowed on him, he moved to name the County Seat after Senator Jones - Jonesboro. And so, a happy compromise pleased all.

In 1883, a second County Seat was deemed necessary, and Lake City became this second county government center, about 18 miles to the east of Jonesboro.

I wonder if anyone masquerades as Emmett Kelly on April 1st in Jonesboro?
I wonder if anyone masquerades as Emmett Kelly on April 1st in Jonesboro?

City of the Running Joke

A running joke comes out every April Fool's Day in Jonesboro and sometimes on other days as well.

The joke tells us that on April 1, 1952, the Bartleby Clown College was established in an old, abandoned warehouse in Jonesboro. View a doctored photo here: Clown College.

The college was said to have existed for 7 years, but really never had done so. People have driven and walked all over Jonesboro, looking for the clown college and failing to find it.

It's a good joke that keeps on laughing at folks. It gives Jonoesboro an ongoing humorous personality, considering how the city and county were named.

Jonesboro, NW of Memphis TN

A markerJonesboro AR -
Jonesboro, AR, USA
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Arkansas State University (photos this page, public domain).
Arkansas State University (photos this page, public domain).

A Farming Hub in the Western Territories

Arkansas, along with Jonesboro specifically, was inhabited early on by Native Americans such as the Caddo, Osage, and Quapaw (Arkansas)Nation for several thousand years before Europeans and European-Americans traveled into these western territories. The Osages were an agricultural society, while Caddo Nation hunted bison across Northern Arkansas. In the early 1800s, "Indian traders" and trappers met the various native communities and struck up an exchange for furs and other products.

The City of Jonesboro was constructed on what was called Crowley's Ridge and named a county seat in honor of a Senator Jones about 1859. Between 1959 and 1879, three separate court houses burned and some Civil War skirmishes may have helped cause the last catastrophe. In 1881, the first railroads built their way through and brought more commercial trade with the. Several additional rail lines traveled through town and added to the local economy through passengers and freight. Jonesboro was quickly established as a farming products hub, based on rail transportation. Rice and cotton became particularly important and Riceland Rice mill remains active today - one of the two largest such mills in existence globally.

Old Town and Lake City

Lake City, the second County Seat, sits on the St. Francis River. It was previously a Native American Indian camp and was called Old Town by white settlers later on, and finally Lake City. One of these settlers was a fur trader, Jesse Morgan, who may have been the first white man to settle there. Regardless, a government surveyor in 1848 recorded that Old Town was a small community settlement (of white settlers). It was a hunting, trapping, and farming community until after the Civil War. Steamboats and railroads emerged to build passenger and timber shipping business. Stores, blacksmiths, and banks came into being and the population increased.

In World War II, defense related industries grew in and around Lake City and Jonesboro. In the 21st Century, the local economy is agricultural and residents that dio not farm drive to Jonesboro to work.

Top Hiring Companies

  1. St. Bernard's Medical Center
  2. Baptist Memorial Hospital
  3. StarTek - Staffing agency.
  4. Halcyon Rehabilitation
  5. Builders Transportation
  6. Schneider
  7. Averitt Express
  8. Tenet Healthcare
  9. Medical Connections Inc. - Healthcare
  10. Pediastaff - Pediatric Healthcare
  11. Certified Healthcare Agency
  12. Pizza Hut
  13. Gecko Hospitality - Restaurants
  14. Family Dollar Stores

Top 10 High Demand Jobs

Jobs have been increasing gradually since May 2011

  1. Truck Drivers
  2. Occupational Therapists
  3. Assistant Managers - retail and food.
  4. Automotive/Trucking Parts Managers - Heavy-Duty, Fleet Trucks, related
  5. Physical Therapists
  6. Registered Nurses (RNs)
  7. Physicians - Pediatric
  8. Outside Sales Representatives
  9. Team/Crew Members - fast food and casual dining, some retail.
  10. Route Sales People - G & K Services in Jonesboro: uniforms and related (see link).

Government Forecasts for Fast Growing Jobs to 2016

The categories in bold print below are those that appear frequently already on daily job postings on the Internet, gathered and trended by and

  1. Registered Nurses (RNs)
  2. Combined Food Prep and Service Jobs – Casual Dining & Fast Food
  3. Mainstream and Special Education Primary and Secondary School Teachers
  4. Cooks and Food Prep Jobs
  5. Retail Sales Jobs and Sales Representatives
  6. Building Cleaning and Pest Control
  7. Transportation and Manual Material Moving
  8. Farmers and Ranchers
  9. Counselors and Social Workers
  10. Nursing Aides and Orderlies

Local Hospitals and Medical Centers

  • Arkansas Medical Services Center
  • Green Leaf Medical Center
  • Methodist Hospital
  • Northeast Arkansas Rehabilitation Hospital
  • St. Bernard Regional Medical Center

Indian Stadium at ASU.
Indian Stadium at ASU.

Sports and Recreation

  • Arkansas Sportshow - Held yearly in February and sponsored by the Rotary Club to showcase outdoor sports and RV-ing. Visit
  • Brooks Golf Center
  • Jonesboro Country Club
  • Jonesboro Youth Sports - Youth of all ages and home of the Miracle League for inclusive sports. See

Higher Education

  • Arkansas Academy of Hair Design
  • Arkansas State University - Main Campus in Jonesboro - Home to the local Museum and flourishing arts programs as well.
  • Black River Technical College
  • Crowley's Ridge College - Paragould AR
  • DeVry University and Keller Graduate School
  • Everest College
  • Grace Christian College
  • High-Tech Beauty College
  • Mississippi County Community College
  • Penn Foster Career School
  • Strayer University
  • Williams Baptist College

Comments and Additions

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    • profile image

      Jason 6 years ago

      Thank you for the valuable information.

    • profile image

      Tammy Lochmann 8 years ago

      A town with a sense of humor, I would love to live there!

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 8 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you for your interesting hub. I enjoy reading about other towns it always gives you a different outlook.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 8 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      We should live 200 years to get it all in. :)

    • dusanotes profile image

      dusanotes 8 years ago from Windermere, FL

      Jonesboro was a little late in getting the railroad, 1881. The Transcontinental railway linked east and west together in 1869 at Promontory Point, Utah. Your story is interesting, and it helps us understand an era and a place that I have never visited. I would, now, like to see this fine place. But, honestly, it isn't high on my priority list, not at my age. Keep up the great work. Don White