Rise in number of jobless pushes Arkansas’ July unemployment rate up to 3.3%

by Michael Tilley ([email protected]) 536 views 

A slower pace of job growth and a 2.5% rise in the number of jobless pushed Arkansas’ unemployment rate up slightly to 3.3% in July from the 3.2% in June. The jobs picture is better than a year ago when the July 2021 rate was 4%. The U.S. rate in July was 3.5%.

The number of employed in Arkansas during July was an estimated 1,311,345, up 33,357 jobs, or 2.6%, compared with July 2021, but just below the 1,311,381 in June, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report posted Friday (Aug. 19). The July numbers are preliminary and subject to revision.

Arkansas’ labor force, the number of people eligible to work, in July was 1,355,903, up 1.86% compared with the 1,331,143 in July 2021, and above the 1,354,855 in June.

Arkansans without jobs in July totaled 45,558, up 2.5% compared with the 43,474 in June, but below the 53,155 in July 2021. The state’s labor force participation rate in July was 57%, unchanged from June and better than the 56.5% in June 2021.

Dr. Michael Pakko, chief economist and state economic forecaster at the Institute for Economic Advancement at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, said the July report may “appear disappointing,” but includes positive signs for the state’s economy.

“The rising number of unemployed is certainly a concern, particularly in the context of July being the fourth consecutive month of increase. On the other hand, the labor force has continued to expand. As net new entrants to the labor force expand the pool of workers, it is not surprising to see a transitory increase in the number of unemployed. Meanwhile, the stalling of employment growth in July appears to be more of a pause in steady growth, rather than a change in trend,” he noted in his report at the Arkansas Economist.

The biggest year-over-year sector gains were in Trade, Transportation & Utilities (12,000 more jobs), manufacturing (up 7,100 jobs), and Education & Health Services (up 6,800 jobs). The gain in Trade, Transportation & Utilities was driven largely by 7,600 more jobs year-over-year in the subsector of Transportation, Warehousing & Utilities. Education & Health Services growth was driven by 4,400 year-over-year more jobs in the subsector of Healthcare & Social Assistance. The Education & Health Services sector topped 200,000 jobs for the first time and set a new record in the July report.

Unemployment rates were lower in July in 14 states and the District of Columbia, higher in 3 states, and stable in 33 states, according to the BLS report. All 50 states and the District had jobless rate decreases from a year earlier.

Minnesota had the lowest jobless rate in July at 1.8%. The next lowest rates were in Nebraska, New Hampshire, and Utah at 2% each. The rates in the following seven states set new series lows (all state series begin in 1976): Alaska (4.5%), California (3.9%), Georgia (2.8%), Louisiana (3.6%), Mississippi (3.6%), Missouri (2.5%), and Washington (3.7%).

The District of Columbia had the highest unemployment rate at 5.2%, followed by Alaska and New Mexico at 4.5% each. In total, 17 states had unemployment rates lower than the U.S. figure of 3.5%, 10 states and the District had higher rates, and 23 states had rates that were not appreciably different from that of the nation.

Trade, Transportation, and Utilities
July 2022: 267,600
June 2022: 266,000
July 2021: 255,600
Sector employment first set a record of 267,700 in March 2022.

July 2022: 208,500
June 2022: 208,000
July 2021: 206,300
Sector employment hit a peak of 224,100 in May 2010.

Education and Health Services
July 2022: 202,800
June 2022: 198,200
July 2021: 196,000
July employment marked a new record for the sector.

July 2022: 164,200
June 2022: 163,200
July 2021: 157,100
Manufacturing, once the state’s largest jobs sector, posted record employment of 247,600 in July 1995.

Professional and Business Services
July 2022: 149,500
June 2022: 148,700
July 2021: 146,300
Sector employment set a record of 152,600 in January 2022.

Leisure and Hospitality
July 2022: 122,600
June 2022: 120,900
July 2021: 118,400
The sector first reached an employment record of 124,400 in February 2020.

Financial Activities
July 2022: 68,100
June 2022: 68,300
July 2021: 66,100
June employment marked a new record for the sector at 68,300.

July 2022: 55,100
June 2022: 54,600
July 2021: 55,600
The sector reached record employment of 57,700 in February 2006.