Arkansas jobless rate touches new all-time low at 3.5%, governor says

by Wesley Brown (wesbrocomm@gmail.com) 165 views 

Gov. Asa Hutchinson revealed Thursday (May 18) that Arkansas’ unemployment rate has touched a new all-time low again in April, falling one percentage point to 3.5% as the state’s civilian labor pool continues to grow.

Although the state Department of Workforce Services (DWS) does not officially release its monthly unemployment report until tomorrow morning, Hutchinson told reporters gathered at the state capitol that preliminary figures indicated the state unemployment picture continues to reach new records.

“We beat last month’s number again,” Hutchinson said ahead of a press conference on the state’s new MyIdea website.

Last month, DWS jobless data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) showed the March unemployment rate in Arkansas was 3.6%, down from 3.7% in January and better than the 4.1% in March 2016.

In March, Arkansas’ labor force totaled 1.341 million, down 4,305 compared to 1.345 million a year ago. The number of employed was an estimated 1,292,574 in March, up 2,094 jobs compared to the 1,290,525 in March 2016. The number of unemployed in Arkansas totaled 48,609 in March, well below the 54,963 in March 2016.

Earlier this month, the U.S. economy added another 211,000 jobs in April as the nation’s jobless rate edged down to the lowest level in nearly a decade at 4.4%, according to BLS data. The number of unemployed persons at 7.1 million remained unchanged from April’s tally.

Nationwide, unemployment rates in March were lower in 17 states and stable in 33 states and the District of Columbia. Eighteen states had jobless rate decreases from a year earlier, and 32 states and the District of Columbia had little or no change.

Colorado had the lowest unemployment rate in March, 2.6%, closely followed by Hawaii, 2.7%, and New Hampshire, North Dakota, and South Dakota, 2.8% each. The rates in Arkansas, Colorado (2.6%), Maine (3%), and Oregon (3.8%) set new series lows.

New Mexico had the highest jobless rate, 6.7%. In total, 19 states had unemployment rates lower than the U.S. figure of 4.5%, 7 states and the District of Columbia had higher rates, and 24 states had rates that were not appreciably different from that of the nation.

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