An estimated unemployment decline of 3,200 and an estimated employment increase of almost 6,300 resulted in lowering Arkansas’ December jobless rate to 7.7% compared to 7.9% during November.
The December 2010 rate was 7.9%.
Despite the decline, December marks the 34th consecutive month the Arkansas jobless rate has been above 7%. Arkansas was one of 46 states to post an unemployment rate dip in December compared to December 2010, according the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report released Tuesday morning (Jan. 24).
The December report shows a gain of 6,247 in the number of employed in Arkansas compared to November, and an employment gain of 8,825 compared to December 2010. The number of unemployed in Arkansas during December was 105,294, down 1.75% compared to December 2010.
Gov. Mike Beebe (D) said he was pleased with the downward trend of the last few months, but does not believe normalcy has returned to the Arkansas jobs market.
“It’s nice to see the trend in the unemployment figures going down. 7.7 [percent] is still too high. We’ve still got to fight like the devil every time we can to create more jobs,” Beebe said.
The Oklahoma jobless rate was 6.1% in December, unchanged from November and down from the 6.8% during December 2010. Oklahoma’s jobless rate has posted below 7% since September 2010. The U.S. rate during December was 8.5%, down from 8.7% in November and down from 9.4% in December 2010.
ARKANSAS SECTOR SHIFTS
• In the Trade, Transportation and Utilities sector — Arkansas’ largest job sector — employment during December was an estimated 235,200, up from 233,300 during November and above the 234,900 during December 2010. Peak employment in the sector during 2011 was 240,000 during April.
• Manufacturing jobs in Arkansas during December totaled an estimated 155,000, up slightly from 154,800 in November and below the 159,000 during December 2010. Employment in the once booming manufacturing sector fell in 2011 to levels not seen since early 1968. The December jobs figure is more than 34.3% below the January 2001 sector employment of 236,000.
• Employment in government jobs during December was 219,400, below the 219,700 during November and above the 216,200 during December 2010.
• The state’s Education and Health Services sector continued its 2011 growth pattern during December with 170,800 jobs. The sector employed 170,600 during November and 167,300 during December 2010. Employment in the sector us up almost 33% compared to January 2001.
• The construction sector employed an estimated 47,600 employed during December, down from 47,700 during November but up from 47,300 during December 2010.
“Over the year, 28 states experienced statistically significant changes in employment, all of which were increases. The largest increase occurred in California (+263,200), followed by Texas (+204,500) and Florida (+113,900),” noted the BLS report.
In December, eight states recorded statistically significant changes in employment, five of which were increases.The statistically significant job gains occurred in Indiana (+15,100), Kentucky (+8,400), Utah (+6,400), South Dakota (+4,600), and North Dakota (+3,800). The statistically significant declines in employment occurred in Missouri (-11,800), Washington (-11,600), and Nevada (-9,800).