Arkansas’ unemployment rate rose one-tenth of a percent in March to 7.8%. One year ago, the state’s jobless rate stood at 7.0%, according to the Department of Workforce Services based on federal labor statistics.
Arkansas’ rate was still well below the national unemployment rate of 9.7%, but the effects of the recession are still being felt locally.
DWS Communications Director Kimberly Friedman said, “The increase in our rate this month follows historical trends. In the last 10 years, Arkansas’ March rate has increased five times.”
Arkansas’ civilian labor force decreased 6,900 in March, a result of 7,800 fewer employed and 900 more unemployed Arkansans.
There were interesting developments in the monthly employment trends.
Construction jobs rose 3,900 on account of better weather and seasonal factors.
Other services added 3,300 jobs. Businesses in this sector included religious organizations, civic organizations, personal services, laundry services, maintenance services and repair services.
Employment in leisure and hospitality increased 2,800. Trade, transportation, and utilities gained 2,200 jobs. While all subsectors increased, retail trade enjoyed a majority of the seasonal expansion.
Government experienced a gain of 2,200 jobs in large part due to temporary hiring for the 2010 Census.
Manufacturing rose by 1,400, its second consecutive month of gains.
Unemployment numbers are based on one set of statistics in conjunction with federal data. Arkansas employment numbers are based on a separate survey conducted at the state level.
In a trend we’ve been monitoring, trade, transportation and utility sector jobs stood at an estimated 225,700 workers in March. Government employment stood at 222,500.
Those two sectors represent the largest employment categories among Arkansas’ workforce. The gap between the two sectors is 3,200 jobs.