Arkansas’ jobless rate at 7.3% during August

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 103 views 

Although Arkansas’ jobless rate remained unchanged at 7.3% in August, the August jobs report for the state clearly shows a negative trend of declines in employment and workforce size.

Arkansas was one of 12 states to not have a year-over-year jobless rate change during August. Of the six states surrounding Arkansas, two had jobless rate increases in August compared to July (Oklahoma, Tennessee), two had rates that were unchanged (Missouri, Texas), and two had jobless rate decreases (Louisiana, Mississippi).

The good news is that Arkansas’ August jobless rate of 7.3% is well below the August 2011 rate of 8.1%, according to figures released Friday (Sept. 21) by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Also, the number of unemployed in August was an estimated 100,070, below the 100,690 of July, and considerably lower than the 111,127 during August 2011.

August marks the 43rd consecutive month the Arkansas jobless rate has been above 7%.

“Overall, the data from August reinforce the view that the steadily improving conditions we saw in Arkansas labor markets during the second half of 2011 and the first part of this year have given way to relative stagnation,” said Michael Pakko, University of Arkansas Institute for Economic Advancement chief economist and state economic forecaster. “The unemployment rate is stuck in the range of 7.1 to 7.3, and payroll employment is similarly showing no clear trend in recent months.”

Kimberly Friedman, communications director for the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, noted that the unchanged jobless rate was a function of declines jobs and the labor force.

“Reductions in both employment and unemployment made for a smaller civilian labor force. This collective combination of decreases produced no change in the unemployment rate,” Friedman noted in the DWS statement.

There may not be a trend with respect to the unemployment rate, but the labor force and employment figures are beginning to indicate a negative trend.

The estimated number of unemployed in Arkansas during August was 1.379 million, a number that has declined beginning in May. The number of employed in Arkansas during August was 1.279 million, a number that has declined since April.

However, the number of employed in August was up 1.8% compared to August 2011. Arkansas’ labor force size in August was 0.93% more than in August 2011.

• In the Trade, Transportation and Utilities sector — Arkansas’ largest job sector — employment during August was an estimated 233,800, below the revised 234,500 during July and just ahead of the 233,500 during August 2011. Peak employment in the sector was 240,400 during January 2009.

• Manufacturing jobs in Arkansas during August totaled 155,600, down from 156,900 in July and down 900 jobs compared to August 2011. Employment in the once booming manufacturing sector fell in 2011 to levels not seen since early 1968. The June jobs figure is more than 34% below the January 2001 sector employment of 236,000.

• Government job employment during August was 222,100, up compared to the 221,100 during July but ahead of the 221,600 during August 2011.

• The state’s Education and Health Services sector during August 174,000 jobs, up from the 173,300 during July and up from 166,700 during August 2011. Employment in the sector is up more than 30% compared to January 2002.

• Arkansas’ tourism sector (leisure & hospitality) employed 103,700 during August, up from the 103,200 during July and ahead of the 99,300 during August 2011.

• The construction sector employed an estimated 43,900 during August, a relatively big gain from 41,900 during July, but below the 46,200 during August 2011. Employment in the sector is down more than 19% from January 2002.

The BLS figures show that 42 states had jobless rate decreases in August compared to August 2011, seven states saw rate increases, and one had no change. The U.S. jobless rate during August was 8.1%, down from 8.3% in July and below 9.1% during August 2011.

Oklahoma’s jobless rate was 5.1% in August, up from 4.9% in July and well below the 6.3% during August 2011. The jobless rate in Missouri during August was 7.2%, unchanged compared to July and below the 8.6% during August 2011.