Arkansas’ jobless rate remains under 4% for 32 months

by Michael Tilley (mtilley@talkbusiness.net) 208 views 

Arkansas’ jobless rate was 3.8% in February, marking 32 consecutive months the closely watched economic indicator has been under 4%. The rate was up from 3.7% in January, and unchanged from February 2018.

The jobless rate first fell below 4% in July 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics which posted February employment figures Friday (March 22).

The number of employed in Arkansas during February was an estimated 1.306 million, up from 1.304 million in January and up from 1.3 million in February 2018. Arkansas’ labor force reached 1.357 million, up from 1.355 million in January and up from 1.351 million in February 2018.

“The number of employed in Arkansas rose 1,758 in February, adding slightly to the civilian labor force. There are currently 6,592 more employed Arkansans than in February 2018,” Susan Price, BLS program operations manager for the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, noted in a statement.

Arkansans without jobs was an estimated 51,208 in February, up from 50,520 in January and just slightly above the 51,053 in February 2018.

Jobs in the Trade, Transportation, and Utilities sector – the state’s largest job category – was 254,700 in February, up from 253,900 in January and up 1.27% from the 251,500 in February 2018. The February employment, if not revised, set a new record for the sector.

The Government sector employed 213,200 in February, up from 213,000 in January and up from the 212,000 in February 2018. Sector employment hit a peak of 224,100 in May 2010.

The Education and Health Services sector employed 192,100 in February, down from 192,600 in January and above the 190,500 in February 2018. The January job number was a record for the sector, which has grown more than 17% – up 28,100 jobs – between January 2010 and January 2019.

Arkansas’ manufacturing sector had 165,200 jobs, down from 165,300 in January but ahead of the 159,900 jobs in February 2018. Manufacturing, once the state’s largest jobs sector, has shed 82,400 jobs – down 33.3% – since reaching a record of 247,600 in February 1995. The sector reached a low of 152,000 jobs in July 2013.

Professional and Business Services employed 146,300 jobs in February, down from 146,600 in January and below the 146,700 in February 2018. The sector set a jobs record of 147,400 in July 2018.

The state’s Leisure and Hospitality (tourism) sector had 120,300 jobs in February, up from 120,100 in January and above the 118,200 in February 2018. The sector set an employment record of 120,600 in November 2018.

The federal BLS data showed that seven states had February jobless rate decreases from a year earlier, two states had increases, and 41 states had little or no change. The U.S. jobless rate was 3.8% in February, down from 4.1% in February 2018. Iowa, New Hampshire, North Dakota, and Vermont had the lowest unemployment rates in February at 2.4% each. Alaska had the highest jobless rate at 6.5%.

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