Arkansas’ jobless rate at or above 7% for 49 months

by The City Wire staff ( 3 views 

February marks 49 consecutive months that Arkansas’ jobless rate has been at or above 7%. February also continued a trend in which the jobless rate improves but declines in the size of the workforce and number of employed point to ongoing weakness in Arkansas’ economy.

Arkansas’ unemployment rate in February was 7.2%, unchanged from January, and below the 7.3% in February 2012.

The number of employed in Arkansas during February was down more than 25,000 compared to February 2012, but the number of unemployed fell from 100,292 in February 2012 to an estimated 95,927 in February 2013.

Employed Arkansans were an estimated 1.241 million in February, down 25,007 jobs, or 1.97%, compared to February 2012, according to the Friday (March 28) report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The BLS estimate shows 4,365 fewer Arkansans were unemployed in February than February 2012. The workforce size shrank from an estimated 1.344 million in January to 1.337 million in February. The workforce totaled 1.366 million in February 2012. January was the first time Arkansas’ workforce size fell below 1.36 million since September 2010.

Arkansas’ annual average jobless rate fell from 7.9% during 2011 to 7.3% during 2012.

In the Trade, Transportation and Utilities sector — Arkansas’ largest job sector — employment during February was an estimated 250,600, above the the 248,900 during January and ahead of the 241,200 during February 2012. Employment in the sector reached a new high in February. The previous high was 250,400 in January 2007.

Manufacturing jobs in Arkansas during February totaled 157,400, up from the 156,300 in January and above the 156,500 in February 2012. Employment in the once booming 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 February was 215,900, up from 214,400 in January and below the 216,500 during February 2012.

The state’s Education and Health Services sector during February had 173,800 jobs, up from the 173,700 during January and up from 171,100 during February 2012. Employment in the sector is up more than 25% compared to February 2003.

Arkansas’ tourism sector (leisure & hospitality) employed 103,700 during February, unchanged from January and ahead of the 102,700 during February 2012. The February and January jobs tally marks a new employment high in the sector. The previous high was 103,400 jobs during October 2012.

The construction sector employed an estimated 44,300 during February, up from the 43,800 during January and below the 49,000 during February 2012. Employment in the sector is down almost 14% from February 2003.

The BLS figures show that 37 states had jobless rate decreases in February compared to February 2012, 10 states saw rate increases, and three states had no change. The U.S. jobless rate during February was 7.7%, below 8.3% during February 2012.

The highest jobless rate among the states in February was 9.6% in California, Mississippi and Rhode Island, and the lowest rate was 3.3% in North Dakota.

Oklahoma’s jobless rate was 5% in February, down from 5.1% in January and below the 5.3% during February 2012. The jobless rate in Missouri during February was 6.7%, up from 6.6% in January and below the 7.1% during February 2012.