Editor’s note: This story is a component of The Compass Report. The quarterly Compass Report is managed by The City Wire and presented by Fort Smith-based Benefit Bank. Other supporting sponsors of The Compass Report are Cox Communications and the Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Arkansas’ jobs numbers were anything but positive in December, with the jobless rate of 7.4% up from 7.1% in December 2012. The labor force in December was down 1.47%, the number of employed fell 1.81%, and the number of jobless rose by 2.9% compared to December 2012.
Arkansas was one of just six states to post a year-over-year jobless rate increase, according to the report issued Tuesday (Jan. 28) by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Arkansas’ labor force was an estimated 1.327 million in December, up slightly compared to November, but down compared to 1.347 million in December 20102. The year-over-year comparison shows almost 20,000 fewer in the Arkansas labor force.
The number of employed in Arkansas during December was 1.229 million, above November employment of 1.226 million, but down compared to the 1.252 million in December 2012. The number of employed in Arkansas has dropped by 22,684 between December 2012 and December 2013.
The number of unemployed was an estimated 98,510 during December, down from the 99,080 in November, but up 2.77% compared to the 95,732 in December 2012.
Arkansas’ annual average jobless rate fell from 7.9% during 2011 to 7.3% during 2012. Also, December marked the 59th consecutive month that Arkansas’ jobless rate has been at or above 7%.
ARKANSAS SECTOR NUMBERS
In the Trade, Transportation and Utilities sector — Arkansas’ largest job sector — employment during December was an estimated 253,100, up from 252,400 in November and ahead of the 248,400 during December 2012.
Manufacturing jobs in Arkansas during December totaled 154,700, unchanged compared to November and below the 155,000 in December 2012. Employment in the manufacturing sector fell in 2012 to levels not seen since early 1968. Peak employment in the sector was 247,300 in February 1995.
Government job employment during December was 215,100, down from 215,200 in November and below the 216,200 during December 2012.
The state’s Education and Health Services sector during December had 176,500 jobs, down from the 176,600 during November and up from 173,000 during December 2012. Employment in the sector is up more than 25% compared to December 2003.
Arkansas’ tourism sector (leisure & hospitality) employed 103,400 during December, down from a revised 103,700 during November, and above the 102,900 during December 2012. At a revised 103,700, the November employment tied a record for the sector that was first reached in January 2013.
The BLS report also noted that 42 states had unemployment rate decreases from a year earlier, six states had increases, and two states had no change. The national jobless rate during December was at 6.7%, and was down from the 7.9% in December 2012.
Island had the highest unemployment rate among the states in December at 9.1%. The next highest rate was in Nevada at 8.8% and Illinois at 8.6%. North Dakota again had the lowest jobless rate at 2.6%.
The December jobless rate in Oklahoma was 5.4%, unchanged compared to November and up from 5.1% in December 2012.
Missouri’s jobless rate during December was 5.9%, down from 6.1% in November and down compared to 6.6% in December 2012.