Arkansas jobless rate 3.5% in February; manufacturing and tourism sectors see big losses

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 306 views 

The federal jobs report posted Friday (March 27) showed a gain of 5,516 jobs in Arkansas between February 2018 and February 2019, a rise of just 0.42%. The February report followed a January that posted 0.36% year-over-year job growth.

The number of employed in Arkansas during February was an estimated 1,319,479, up 5,516 jobs compared with February 2019, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The state’s labor force – the number of people eligible to work – was 1,367,278 in February up 0.35% compared with the 1,362,467 in February 2019. The February numbers are preliminary and subject to revision.

Arkansas’ jobless rate in February was 3.5%, unchanged from January and below the 3.6% in February 2019.

Arkansans without jobs in February totaled 47,799, down from 48,504 in February 2019 and below the 48,068 unemployed in January.

Sectors with the biggest year-over-year gains were Education and Health Services (3,400 new jobs), Professional and Business Services (800) and Trade, Transportation and Utilities (500). Possibly as an early sign of the COVID-19 pandemic, the state’s tourism sector lost 2,300 jobs.

Unemployment rates were lower in February in eight states, higher in one state and stable in 41 states and the District of Columbia. Eleven states had jobless rate decreases from a year earlier, 1 state had an increase, and 38 states and the District had little or no change. North Dakota had the lowest unemployment rate in February, 2.2%, while Alaska had the highest rate, 5.8%.

Jobs in the Trade, Transportation, and Utilities sector – the state’s largest job category – was 253,200 in February, down from 254,700 in January and up from the 252,700 in February 2019. The January employment set a new record for the sector.

The Government sector employed 210,600 in February, down from 210,800 in January and below the 212,100 in February 2019. Sector employment hit a peak of 224,100 in May 2010.

The Education and Health Services sector employed 197,000 in February, unchanged from January and above the 193,600 in February 2019. January set a record for sector employment.

Arkansas’ manufacturing sector had 160,200 jobs, down from 160,500 in January and down from the 163,200 jobs in February 2019. Manufacturing, once the state’s largest jobs sector, has shed 86,800 jobs – down 35% – 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 147,000 in February, up from 145,900 in January and up from 146,200 February 2019. December set a record for sector employment with 148,000 estimated jobs.

The state’s Leisure and Hospitality (tourism) sector had 117,900 jobs in February, down from 120,100 in January and below the 120,200 in February 2019. The sector reached a record for employment in July 2019 with 120,800 jobs.

The Financial Activities sector had 61,900 jobs in February, up from 61,800 in January and down from the 62,400 in February 2019. The sector hit record employment of 62,900 in August.