The state’s jobless rate ticked lower in July but the number of Arkansans with jobs was down 7.6% year over year, and the number of unemployed rose almost 90% year over year, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report posted Friday (Aug. 21).
The July jobless rate of 7.1% was well above the 3.6% in July 2019, but down from the 8.1% in June. The report marked the fourth full month of COVID-19 impacts on the economy.
The number of employed in Arkansas during July was an estimated 1,212,619, down 99,893 jobs, or 7.6% lower, compared with July 2019. The state’s labor force – the number of people eligible to work – was 1,304,752 in July down 4.1% compared with the 1,361,041 in July 2019, and down from the 1,314,162 in June.
Arkansans without jobs in July totaled 92,133, up 89.8% from the 48,524 in July 2019 but below the 106,405 unemployed in June. Sectors with the biggest year-over-year losses were Leisure & Hospitality (18,500 lost jobs), Manufacturing (down 18,500), and Government (down 9,900). The July numbers are preliminary and subject to revision.
University of Arkansas Little Rock economist Michael Pakko said job numbers improved in July, but at a slower pace.
“Arkansas labor market continued to recover in July from the pandemic-related job-losses of March and April; however, the pace of the rebound slowed. Arkansas’ unemployment rate declined by one full percentage point from 8.1% (revised) in June to 7.1% in July. The U.S. unemployment rate declined by 0.9% from 11.1% to 10.2%,” Pakko noted in his report. “Relative to the pre-COVID-19 employment peak in February, payroll employment was down 68,100 jobs, or 5.3% in July. By comparison, total U.S. nonfarm payroll employment was down 8.4% from its February peak.”
The BLS report showed that jobless rates were lower in July in 30 states, higher in 9 states, and stable in 11 states and the District of Columbia. All 50 states and the District had jobless rate increases from a year earlier. Massachusetts had the highest unemployment rate in July at 16.1%, followed by New York at 15.9%. The rates in Connecticut (10.2%), New Mexico (12.7%), and New York (15.9%) set new series highs. Utah had the lowest unemployment rate at 4.5%, followed by Nebraska at 4.8% and Idaho at 5%.
JOB SECTOR NUMBERS
Jobs in the Trade, Transportation, and Utilities sector – the state’s largest job category – was 253,600 in July, down from 253,700 in June and up from the 251,100 in July 2019. The sector was the only large jobs sector in the state to post a year-over-year jobs gain. December employment of 254,700 set a new record for the sector.
The Government sector employed 201,000 in July, below the 203,100 in June and below the 210,900 in July 2019. Sector employment hit a peak of 224,100 in June 2010.
The Education and Health Services sector employed 184,300 in July, up from 183,100 in June and below the 193,500 in July 2019. February set a record for sector employment at 197,600.
Arkansas’ manufacturing sector had 143,000 jobs, down from 144,500 in June and down from the 161,500 jobs in July 2019. Manufacturing, once the state’s largest jobs sector, has shed 104,600 jobs – down 42.2% – since reaching a record of 247,600 in June 1995. The July number marked a new jobs low for the sector.
Professional and Business Services employed 142,200 in July, up from 141,300 in June and down from 144,700 July 2019. The sector had record employment of 148,000 in December 2019.
The state’s Leisure and Hospitality (tourism) sector had 102,300 jobs in July, up from 100,300 in June and 18,500 jobs below the 120,800 in July 2019. The sector reached a record for employment in July 2019.
The Financial Activities sector had 60,900 jobs in July, up from 60,700 June and down from the 62,800 in July 2019. The sector hit record employment of 62,900 in August 2019.