Arkansas’ jobless rate holds at 3.9%, number of employed up more than 3% year-over-year

by Wesley Brown ([email protected]) 72 views 

Arkansas’ job market held up favorably with the rest of the United States as the state’s unemployment rate remained unchanged at 3.9% in August with a brimming labor pool of 1,355,931 workers, state labor officials said Tuesday.

According to labor force data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics unemployment rates were significantly higher in August in 6 states, lower in 3 states, and stable in Arkansas and 40 other states and the District of Columbia.

The number of employed in Arkansas rose to 1.302 million, up an estimated 38,347 jobs compared to August 2015 – a 3.03% gain.

BLS statistics released by the state Department of Workforce Services shows Arkansas’ seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remained stable between July and August at 3.9%. The state’s civilian labor force, however, declined 1,520, a result of 1,787 fewer employed and 267 more unemployed Arkansans, DWS officials said.

“The unemployment rate in Arkansas remained stable this month, as did the national unemployment rate,” said Arkansas BLS Program Operations Manager Susan Price.  “While jobless rates in Arkansas and the U.S. were both at 5.1 percent in August 2015, Arkansas has declined at a faster pace.  We are now one full percentage point lower than the national rate.”

For the year, Arkansas’ jobless rate continues to remain below 4% after touching its lowest-ever seasonally adjusted unemployment rate at 3.8% in May. The preliminary average monthly jobless rate in Arkansas during 2015 was 5.4%. Arkansas’ average jobless rate for 2014 was 6.1%, down from the 7.4% average in 2013.

The closely-watched nonfarm employment in Arkansas saw a slight gain of 5,000 positions in August to total 1,220,000. Four major industry sectors decreased, offsetting declines in six sectors. Government added 3,200 jobs in August, rebounding from last month’s drop of 12,300 in relation to summer break at public schools, state labor officials said. Compared to August 2015, nonfarm payroll jobs in Arkansas are up 16,900. Eight major industry sectors posted growth, while employment in three sectors declined. Jobs in professional and business services increased 7,600.

As school hiring began in August, the Education and Health Services added 6,400 jobs and now has 180,600 workers in the state’s labor pool, compared with 179,200 in July and 174,200 in the same period a year ago.

The Trade, Transportation and Utilities sector – Arkansas’ largest job sector – rose by 1,500 jobs in August to 256,800 workers. That compares to 255,300 a month ago and 253,400 in August of 2015.

The manufacturing sector in Arkansas saw a another decline of 600 workers in August and now holds 153,000 working class positions in the state’s civilian labor force. A year ago there were 154,800 manufacturing jobs in Arkansas, well-off peak employment of 247,300 in the sector in February 1995.

Government jobs are slightly up in August after the Arkansas Department of Health sold its in-home health care operations to Kentucky-based Kindred Healthcare, resulting in hundreds of state workers moving off state payrolls. There were 3,200 new workers added to government payrolls in August, which now stands at 202,200. That compares to 199,000 in July and 201,900 a year ago.

Arkansas’ thriving tourism sector (leisure & hospitality), which welcomed a record 28 million visitors to the state in 2015, rose by 700 jobs in August ahead of the Labor Day weekend. There are now 116,700 workers in the state’s tourism sector, compared to 116,000 in July and 115,100 in August 2015.

The construction sector remained flat at 51,100 jobs. A year ago, there 51,500 construction jobs in Arkansas, well off a high of 57,600 reached in May 2007. Mining and logging, which includes the state’s oil and gas sector, continued in a downturn as another 200 workers lost jobs in August. There are now only 6,500 mining jobs in Arkansas, down 1,300 from 7,800 positions a year ago.

BLS reported Sept. 2 that U.S. unemployment remained at 4.9% in August as total nonfarm employment rose by 151,000 jobs. The U.S. jobless rate was the same in July as continued employment gains in professional and business services, health care and financial activities helped to add 255,000 jobs to American payrolls.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (4.5%), adult women (4.5%), teenagers (15.7%), Whites (4.4%), Blacks (8.1%), Asians (4.2%), and Hispanics (5.6%) showed little change in August.

Four states and the District of Columbia had statistically significant over-the-month increases in nonfarm payroll employment and 3 states had significant decreases in August 2016. The largest job gains occurred in California (+63,100), Florida (+24,500), and Virginia (+13,100). The three significant decreases in employment over the month occurred in Michigan (-16,400), North Carolina (-14,100), and Louisiana (-7,800).

Year-over-year, 10 states had statistically significant unemployment rate decreases from August 2015. The largest declines were in Arkansas and Tennessee (-1.2 percentage points each), followed by North Carolina (-1.1 points) and West Virginia (-1.0 point). Five states had significant unemployment rate increases over the year, including Wyoming at (+1.2 percentage points), followed by Oklahoma and Pennsylvania (+0.8 point each).