Three Arkansas job sectors posted record employment in November, with the state’s jobless rate falling to 3.4%, below the 3.7% in November 2020. However, the labor force participation rate continued its 2021 decline.
The number of employed in Arkansas during November was an estimated 1,307,751, up 49,366 jobs, or 3.9%, compared with November 2020, and above the 1,302,987 in October, according to Friday’s (Dec. 17)) report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The November numbers are preliminary and subject to revision.
The state’s labor force – the number of people eligible to work – was 1,354,102 in November, up compared with the 1,328,600 in November 2020, and above the 1,353,519 in October. Arkansans without jobs in November totaled 46,351, down from 50,532 in October, and down 34% from the 70,215 in November 2020.
The biggest year-over-year sector gains were in Professional and Business Services (10,200 more jobs) and Manufacturing (up 5,900 jobs). Of the large employment sectors, those with job losses were Construction, which had 3,500 fewer jobs year over year, and Government with 1,700 fewer jobs.
Arkansas’ labor force participation rate was 56.9% in November, better than the 56.2% in November 2020, but below 57% for the first time in 2021.
Unemployment rates were lower in November in 40 states and stable in 10 states, noted the BLS report. Forty-eight states and the District had jobless rate decreases from a year earlier and two states were little changed.
Nebraska had the lowest jobless rate in November at 1.8%, followed by Utah at 2.1%. The rates in Georgia (2.8%), Nebraska (1.8%), Oklahoma (2.5%), Utah (2.1%), and West Virginia (4%) set new lows since the series began in 1976. California and Nevada had the highest unemployment rates at 6.9% and 6.8%, respectively. In total, 18 states had unemployment rates lower than the U.S. figure of 4.2%, 17 states had higher rates, and 15 states had rates that were not appreciably different from that of the nation.
JOB SECTOR NUMBERS
Jobs in the Trade, Transportation, and Utilities sector – the state’s largest job category – reached 256,000 in November, up from 255,400 in October and above the 253,400 in November 2020. The November number marks a record for the sector.
The Government sector employed 203,100 in November, up from 203,000 in October and below 204,800 in November 2020. Sector employment hit a peak of 224,100 in May 2010.
The Education and Health Services sector employed 189,900 in November, down from 188,900 in October and above the 187,200 in November 2020. February 2020 set a record for sector employment at 195,300.
Arkansas’ manufacturing sector had 161,800 jobs, just below the 161,900 in October and up from the 155,900 jobs in November 2020. Manufacturing, once the state’s largest jobs sector, posted a record employment of 247,600 in July 1995.
Professional and Business Services employed 150,200 in November, up from 148,700 in October and well above the 140,000 in November 2020. The November number marks a record for the sector.
The state’s Leisure and Hospitality (tourism) sector had 114,800 jobs in November, up from 114,000 in October and above the 111,200 in November 2020. The sector first reached an employment record of 122,900 in December 2019.
The Financial Activities sector had 67,900 jobs in November, up from 67,000 in October and up from 63,500 in November 2020. The November jobs number marked new record employment for the sector.
The Construction sector had 51,200 jobs in November, down from 51,700 in October and below the 54,700 in November 2020. The sector reached a record employment of 55,200 in January.