Arkansas’ Jobless Average Dips Below 7% For First Time Since 2008

by The City Wire Staff ([email protected]) 102 views 

Arkansas’ average jobless rate for 2014 was 6.1%, down 1.3% percentage points from the 7.4% average in 2013. It is the first time the annual average dropped below 7% since 2008, according to a report posted Wednesday (March 4) by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The report also showed that Arkansas’ labor force average fell but the number of employed rose in 2014. The average civilian labor force in Arkansas during 2014 was 1.301 million, down from 1.307 million in 2013. The peak for Arkansas’ labor force was 1.376 million in August 2008.

The average number of employed in Arkansas in 2014 was 1.221 million, up from 1.211 million in 2013. The peak for employment in Arkansas was 1.304 million in May 2008.

Following are Arkansas’ average annual jobless rates between 2014 and 2004.
2014: 6.1%
2013: 7.4%
2012: 7.3%
2011: 7.9%
2010: 7.9%
2009: 7.4%
2008: 5.1%
2007: 5.1%
2006: 5.3%
2005: 5.1%
2004: 5.6%

Average annual jobless rates fell in all 50 states in 2014, the first time all states had a decline since 1984, noted the BLS report. The largest average jobless rate decline was in Illinois with 2%, noted the BLS report. Colorado, North Carolina and Ohio were next with a 1.8% dip, and 20 states had average jobless rate declines of at least 1%.

North Dakota had the lowest annual average unemployment rate (2.8%) in 2014. Nebraska (3.3%) and South Dakota (3.4%) had the next lowest jobless rates. Rounding out the top five were Minnesota and Vermont, each with an average of 4.1% in 2014.

Mississippi and Nevada had the highest jobless rates (7.8%) among the states. Rhode Island (7.7%), California (7.5%) and Georgia (7.2) were also part of the bottom five states.

The BLS report also provides an employment-population ratio that provides context to the jobless rates. The ratio compares the number of employed with the “civilian noninstitutional population 16 years of age” or older. The range among the states was wide, with North Dakota having highest proportion of employed persons (70.8%) in 2014. West Virginia had the lowest employment-population ratio among the states at 49.7%. West Virginia has had the lowest employment-population ratio each year since the series began in 1976, noted the BLS report.

Arkansas’ ratio improved slightly from 53.2% to 53.4%, but was among the bottom five states on the ratio comparison.
• West Virginia – 49.7%
• Mississippi – 50.1%
• Alabama – 52.9%
• Arkansas – 53.4%
• New Mexico – 53.6%

Oklahoma’s ratio was 57.8%, and Missouri was at 60.8%

Arkansas’ average number of unemployed in 2014 fell to 80,000 from 96,000 in 2013. Coincidentally, the Oklahoma unemployment average fell by the same amounts in each year. The average number of unemployed in Missouri during 2014 was 187,000, down from the 202,000 average in 2013. U.S. ended the year with an average of 9.617 million unemployed, better than the 11.46 million average in 2013.

Arkansas ended the year with a December jobless rate of 5.7% compared to 7.4% in December 2013. The size of the Arkansas workforce in December – 1.324 million – fell by 0.2% compared to December 2013.

The number of employed in Arkansas during December was 1.248 million, up an estimated 19,586 jobs compared to December 2013. The number of unemployed was an estimated 75,757 during December, more than 23% below the 98,484 in December 2013.