The number of Arkansas counties with unemployment above 10% has fallen by nearly 60% in the last year, according to state labor data. Conversely, the number of counties with unemployment at 6% or lower has grown eight-fold.

Arkansas’ state unemployment rate began 2012 at 7.6% in January and slid to just 7.1% in December 2012. The seasonally adjusted state jobless rate never climbed higher than 7.6% during the year, but it dipped to 7.0% in November before ending the year at 7.1%.

An analysis of the highest and lowest unemployment rates showed that 27 Arkansas counties stood above 10% in January 2012 and just one county was at 6.0%. All other counties were above 6.0%.

Jan. 2012
Highest Unemployment Rates

Clay – 16.0%
Ashley – 14.4%
Crittenden – 13.2%
Lee – 13.0%
Drew – 12.9%
Chicot – 12.6%
Desha – 12.6%
Phillips – 12.5%
Woodruff – 12.4%
Bradley – 12.0%
Randolph – 11.7%
St. Francis – 11.7%
Clark – 11.6%
Dallas – 11.5%
Jackson – 11.5%
Sharp – 11.4%
Lincoln – 10.9%
Stone – 10.9%
Mississippi – 10.8%
Ouachita – 10.7%
Greene – 10.6%
Jefferson – 10.6%
Lawrence – 10.6%
Lafayette – 10.3%
Union – 10.2%
Van Buren – 10.1%
Monroe – 10.0%

Jan. 2012
Lowest Unemployment Rates

Washington – 6.0%

By year’s end, the number of high unemployment counties with a rate above 10% had fallen to just 11, a 59% decline. Eight counties saw their high unemployment rates fall to 6.0% or below.

Washington County – the only county that started the year at 6.0% unemployment – led the state by year’s end with the lowest local jobless rate of 4.4%.

Dec. 2012
Highest Unemployment Rates

Clay – 11.8%
Desha – 11.2%
Lee – 11.1%
Phillips – 11.0%
Crittenden – 10.9%
Woodruff – 10.9%
St. Francis – 10.6%
Chicot – 10.4%
Drew – 10.3%
Lafayette – 10.2%
Jackson – 10.0%

Dec. 2012
Lowest Unemployment Rates

Madison – 4.4%
Washington – 4.9%
Benton – 5.3%
Yell – 5.4%
Carroll – 5.6%
Lonoke – 5.8%
Saline – 5.8%
Scott – 5.8%

January 2013′s state jobless figures won’t be released until March 18, 2013. Updated county figures for January will be released on March 22, 2013.