Arkansas’ jobless rate up to 7%

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 33 views 

Arkansas’ seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased five-tenths of a percentage point in May to 7%, and the U.S. jobless rate also rose five-tenths of a percentage point in May to 9.4%.

The figures, provided by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, show that Arkansas’ civilian labor force gained 1,100 in May, with 6,500 more unemployed and 5,400 fewer employed Arkansas workers.

“New and continuing layoffs, mostly in manufacturing, contributed to the increase in the state’s unemployment rate,” Kimberly Friedman, spokeswoman for the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, said in a statement. “Arkansas’ rate is still significantly lower than the national jobless rate.”

Jeff Collins, an economist with Springdale-based Streetsmart Data, said a potential bright spot in Arkansas’ economy is that initial jobless claims are decreasing. The jobless claims figures are a “leading indicator,” and imply that fewer people are signing up for unemployment, Collins said.

“The question is, ‘Can we see things bottoming and getting better?’ There are some initial indications that things may be at the bottom and perhaps starting to get a little better,” Collins explained. “The problem is that we don’t have a trend yet, so you have to be extremely cautious about what you predict.”

Jobless info for the Fort Smith metropolitan area will be released June 30. The Fort Smith metro unemployment rate in April decreased to 7% from a March rate of 7.3%. The number of unemployed in the Fort Smith metro area rose from 5,711 in April 2008 to 9,737 in April 2009, a 70.4% increase.

Yearly Employment Info (May 2008 – May 2009)
• Manufacturing posted a significant decrease of 19,300 jobs in the 12-month period. More than 75% (15,200) of the jobs lost were in durable goods manufacturing.

• Employment in trade, transportation, and utilities dropped 13,400. While contractions occurred throughout the sector, decreases in the trucking industry were the most significant.

• Construction dropped 3,800, with a majority of the decline (3,400 jobs) occurring in the specialty trade contractors subsector.

• Educational and health services enjoyed annual growth, adding 6,700 jobs. Increases were seen in both educational services and health care-social assistance.

• Government added 3,500 jobs. Much of the advancement occurred in state government (2,000), attributed to educational system expansion and the development of new stimulus-related programs.