2.7% jobless rate in May a new low for Arkansas; tourism sector adds more than 10,000 jobs

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 830 views 

There is no sign of a looming recession in Arkansas’ job market. The state jobless rate hit a record low of 2.7% in May, which followed a record low of 2.8% in April. Also, three of the state’s largest job sectors set record employment in May.

The number of employed in Arkansas during May was an estimated 1,343,657, up 16,675 jobs, or 1.25%, compared with May 2022, and above the 1,339,400 in April, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report posted Friday (June 17). The May numbers are preliminary and subject to revision.

Arkansas’ labor force, the number of people eligible to work, in May was 1,380,752, up 0.74% from the 1,370,505 in May 2022 and above the 1,378,421 in April. The state’s labor force participation rate was 57.5% in May, unchanged from April, and below 57.7% in May 2022.

Arkansans without jobs in May totaled 37,095, below the 39,021 in April and down 14.7% compared with the 43,523 in May 2022. The May number marks the lowest number of jobless in Arkansas since the series data began in 1976. The record for jobless persons was 137,037 in May 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic began to shut down parts of the global economy.

The biggest year-over-year sector gains were in Leisure and Hospitality (10,800 more jobs), Education and Health Services (5,900 more jobs), and Construction (5,800 more jobs). May saw record employment in the Leisure and Hospitality, Education and Health Services, and Construction sectors.

Unemployment rates were lower in May in 11 states and stable in 39 states, according to the BLS report. Seventeen states had jobless rate decreases from a year earlier, 8 states and the District of Columbia had increases, and 25 states had little change.

Nebraska, New Hampshire, and South Dakota had the lowest jobless rates in May at 1.9% each. The next lowest rates were in North Dakota and Vermont at 2.1% each. The rates in Arkansas (2.7%), Maryland (2.4%), Mississippi (3.2%), Nebraska (1.9%), New Hampshire (1.9%), Ohio (3.6%), and Pennsylvania (4.0%) set new series lows. (All state series begin in 1976.) Nevada had the highest unemployment rate at 5.4%. In total, 22 states had unemployment rates lower than the U.S. figure of 3.7%, 3 states had higher rates, and 25 states had rates that were not appreciably different from that of the nation.

Trade, Transportation, and Utilities
May 2023: 273,800
April 2023: 274,800
May 2022: 268,500
February marked an employment record for the sector with 276,500 jobs.

May 2023: 209,100
April 2023: 209,200
May 2022: 207,900
Sector employment hit a peak of 224,100 in May 2010.

Education and Health Services
May 2023: 204,200
April 2023: 203,200
May 2022: 198,300
May marked a new employment record for the sector.

May 2023: 164,800
April 2023: 163,700
May 2022: 162,500
Manufacturing, once the state’s largest jobs sector, posted record employment of 247,600 in February 1995.

Professional and Business Services
May 2023: 153,700
April 2023: 152,100
May 2022: 152,200
August 2022 marked an employment record for the sector with 155,900 jobs.

Leisure and Hospitality
May 2023: 131,700
April 2023: 130,200
May 2022: 120,900
May marked a new employment record for the sector.

Financial Activities
May 2023: 71,100
April 2023: 70,500
May 2022: 70,400
The sector had record employment of 71,500 in September 2022.

May 2023: 62,600
April 2023: 61,900
May 2022: 56,800
May marked a new employment record for the sector.