Decline in available workforce pushes Arkansas jobless rate lower in October

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 227 views 

An almost 1% decline in the state’s labor force combined with a scant increase in new jobs pushed the jobless rate to 6.2%, down from 7.2% in September but still higher than the 3.5% in October 2019.

The number of employed in Arkansas during October was an estimated 1,248,547, down 67,353 jobs, or 5.1% lower, compared with October 2019, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The October numbers are preliminary and subject to revision. The report marked the seventh full month of COVID-19 impacts on the economy.

The October number was up 1,747 jobs, or 0.1%, compared with September. The state’s labor force – the number of people eligible to work – was 1,331,750 in October down 2.4% compared with the 1,364,331 in October 2019, and down 0.9% from the 1,344,120 in September.

Arkansans without jobs in October totaled 83,203, up 72.3% from the 48,278 in October 2019 but down from the 97,320 unemployed in September. The state reached a peak of those without jobs of 140,898 in April. Sectors with the biggest year-over-year losses were Manufacturing (17,000 jobs lost) Leisure & Hospitality (down 14,400), and Government (down 8,200). The biggest job gainer was Trade, Transportation and Utilities with 10,600 more jobs year-over-year.

Forty-seven states and the District had jobless rate increases from a year earlier and three states had little or no change. Hawaii had the highest unemployment rate in October at 14.3%, followed by Nevada at 12%. Nebraska and Vermont had the lowest rates at 3% and 3.2%, respectively.

Jobs in the Trade, Transportation, and Utilities sector – the state’s largest job category – was 263,300 in October, up from 259,400 in September and up from the 252,700 in October 2019. The October employment set a new record for the sector.

The Government sector employed 202,400 in October, below the 202,800 in September and below the 210,600 in October 2019. Sector employment hit a peak of 224,100 in May 2010.

The Education and Health Services sector employed 186,000 in October, up from 185,900 in September and below the 193,900 in October 2019. February set a record for sector employment at 197,600.

Arkansas’ manufacturing sector had 145,800 jobs, up from 145,600 in September and down from the 162,800 jobs in October 2019. Manufacturing, once the state’s largest jobs sector, has shed 101,800 jobs – down 41.1% – since reaching a record of 247,600 in July 1995.

Professional and Business Services employed 146,600 in October, down from 143,800 in September and up from 145,500 October 2019. The sector had record employment of 148,000 in December 2019.

The state’s Leisure and Hospitality (tourism) sector had 105,000 jobs in October, up from 103,300 in September and 14,400 jobs below the 119,400 in October 2019. The sector reached an employment record of 120,800 in July 2019.

The Financial Activities sector had 60,800 jobs in October, up from 60,400 in September and down from the 62,600 in October 2019. The sector first hit record employment of 62,900 in August 2019.

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