Arkansas jobless rate rises in August, number of unemployed up 6.9% over July

by Michael Tilley ([email protected]) 526 views 

The number of employed Arkansans grew by more than 31,000 in August over July, but a larger labor force and rise in the number of unemployed pushed the state’s jobless rate higher to 7.4%. The rate was 7.1% in July, and 3.6% in August 2019.

The number of employed in Arkansas during August was an estimated 1,244,400, down 69,085 jobs, or 5.3% lower, compared with August 2019, according to numbers posted Friday (Sept. 18) by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The August numbers are preliminary and subject to revision. he report marked the fifth full month of COVID-19 impacts on the economy.

The August number was up 31,763 jobs compared with July. The state’s labor force – the number of people eligible to work – was 1,343,832 in August down 1.3% compared with the 1,362,055 in August 2019, but up from the 1,305,613 in July.

Arkansans without jobs in August totaled 99,432, up 104.7% from the 48,570 in August 2019 and up 6.9% from the 92,976 unemployed in July. The state reached a peak of those without jobs of 140,898 in April. Sectors with the biggest year-over-year losses were Manufacturing (17,900 jobs lost) Leisure & Hospitality (down 17,500), and Education & Health Services (down 8,200).

Mervin Jebaraj, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Arkansas, said the August report shows that people are again returning to the labor force.

“Even though the state’s unemployment rate ticked up slightly, its important to note that people entered the labor force and were looking for work which was a change from the previous months when people dropped out of the labor force and that helped produce a lower unemployment rate. Nonetheless, the unemployment rate is still high and lot of Arkansans in the leisure and hospitality industry and manufacturing are still out of jobs,” he said.

All 50 states had jobless rate increases from a year earlier, according to BLS. Nevada had the highest unemployment rate in August at 13.2%, followed by Rhode Island at 12.8%, and Hawaii and New York at 12.5% each. Nebraska had the lowest rate at 4%, followed by Utah at 4.1%, and Idaho at 4.2%.

Jobs in the Trade, Transportation, and Utilities sector – the state’s largest job category – was 258,000 in August, up from 254,000 in July and up from the 250,600 in August 2019. December employment of 254,700 set a new record for the sector.

The Government sector employed 206,000 in August, above the 202,100 in July but below the 210,600 in August 2019. Sector employment hit a peak of 224,100 in June 2010.

The Education and Health Services sector employed 185,300 in August, up from 184,400 in July and below the 193,500 in August 2019. February set a record for sector employment at 197,600.

Arkansas’ manufacturing sector had 143,900 jobs, up from 143,300 in July and down from the 161,800 jobs in August 2019. Manufacturing, once the state’s largest jobs sector, has shed 103,700 jobs – down 41.88% – since reaching a record of 247,600 in July 1995. The July number marked a new jobs low for the sector.

Professional and Business Services employed 146,000 in August, up from 141,900 in July and up from 144,900 August 2019. The sector had record employment of 148,000 in December 2019.

The state’s Leisure and Hospitality (tourism) sector had 102,800 jobs in August, up from 102,000 in July and 17,500 jobs below the 120,300 in August 2019. The sector reached a record for employment in July 2019.

The Financial Activities sector had 60,600 jobs in August, down from 60,900 July and down from the 62,900 in August 2019. The sector hit record employment of 62,900 in August 2019.