The first full month of COVID-19 jobs data shows the Arkansas economy shed more than 130,000 jobs and the jobless rate rose to 10.2% compared with the 3.5% in April 2019. The state’s tourism sector had 33.7% fewer jobs year-over-year, the largest drop of any sector.
The number of employed in Arkansas during April was an estimated 1,182,909, down 130,058 jobs compared with April 2019, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report posted Friday (May 22). The state’s labor force – the number of people eligible to work – was 1,316,871 in April down 3.3% compared with the 1,361,142 in April 2019.
The April numbers are preliminary and subject to revision.
Arkansans without jobs in April totaled 133,962, up 178% from the 48,175 in April 2019 and well above the 69,728 unemployed in March.
Sectors with the biggest year-over-year losses were Leisure & Hospitality (40,500 lost jobs), Education and Health Services (down 18,000 jobs) and Manufacturing (down 11,900).
The last time Arkansas’ jobless rate was at 10.2% was March 1983. The state’s jobless number peaked during that recession at 10.3% in January 1983.
Unemployment rates were higher in April in all 50 and the District of Columbia, from a year earlier. U.S. rate was 14.7% in April, up from 3.6% in April 2019. Connecticut had the lowest unemployment rate in April, 7.9%, while Nevada had the highest rate at 28.2%.
JOB SECTOR CHANGES
Jobs in the Trade, Transportation, and Utilities sector – the state’s largest job category – was 240,700 in April, down from 252,800 in March and down from the 252,200 in April 2019. December employment of 254,700 set a new record for the sector.
The Government sector employed 204,000 in April, below the 210,500 in March and below the 211,700 in April 2019. Sector employment hit a peak of 224,100 in May 2010.
The Education and Health Services sector employed 174,600 in April, down from 194,400 in March and 9.6% below the 193,200 in April 2019. February set a record for sector employment at 197,600.
Arkansas’ manufacturing sector had 150,600 jobs, down from 158,800 in March and down 7.3% from the 162,500 jobs in April 2019. Manufacturing, once the state’s largest jobs sector, has shed 97,000 jobs – down 39.2% – since reaching a record of 247,600 in April 1995. The April number marks a new jobs low for the sector. The previous low was 152,000 jobs in July 2013.
Professional and Business Services employed 136,700 in April, down from 147,800 in March and down from 145,200 April 2019. The sector had record employment of 148,000 in December 2019.
The state’s Leisure and Hospitality (tourism) sector had 79,700 jobs in April, down from 115,600 in March and 33.7% below the 120,20 in April 2019. The sector reached a record for employment in July 2019 with 120,800 jobs. The last time sector employment was below 80,000 was December 1995.
The Financial Activities sector had 61,300 jobs in April, down from 62,100 in March and down from the 62,800 in April 2019. The sector hit record employment of 62,900 in August.