Arkansas’ jobless rate ticks lower in March, higher year-over-year

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 144 views 

Arkansas’ March jobless rate of 3.5% was down from 3.6% in February, but was higher than the 2.8% in March 2023 thanks in large part to an almost 24% year-over-year increase in Arkansans without jobs.

The number of employed in Arkansas during March was an estimated 1,337,337, up 5,316 jobs, or 0.4%, compared with March 2023, and above the 1,335,590 in February, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report posted Friday (April 19). The March numbers are preliminary and subject to revision.

Arkansas’ labor force, the number of people eligible to work, in March was 1,385, 598, up 1.06% from the 1,371,006 in March 2023, and above the 1,385,079 in February. The state’s labor force participation rate in March was 57.4%, unchanged from March 2023.

Arkansans without jobs in March totaled 48,261, down from the 49,489 in February, and up 23.8% compared with the 38,985 in March 2023.

The biggest year-over-year sector gains were in Education and Health Services (7,000 more jobs) and Construction (6,00 more jobs), March saw record employment in the Leisure and Hospitality, and Financial Services sectors.

Unemployment rates were lower in March in 6 states, higher in 1 state, and stable in 43 states. Twenty-nine states had jobless rate increases from a year earlier, 1 state had a decrease, and 20 states had little change.

North Dakota had the lowest jobless rate in March at 2%, followed by South Dakota at 2.1%, and Vermont at 2.2%. The rate of 3% in Mississippi set a new series low. (All state series begin in 1976.) California had the highest unemployment rate at 5.3%, followed by the District of Columbia at 5.2%. In total, 23 states had unemployment rates lower than the U.S. figure of 3.8%, 5 states had higher rates, and 22 states had rates that were not appreciably different from that of the nation.

Over the year, nonfarm payroll employment increased in 31 states and was essentially unchanged in 19 states. The largest job gains occurred in Texas (+270,700), California (+217,700), and Florida (+211,100). The largest percentage increases occurred in Idaho (+3.7%), Nevada (+3.4%), and Alaska (+3.2%).

Trade, Transportation, and Utilities
March 2024: 268,300
February 2023: 267,600
March 2023: 267,500
January marked an employment record for the sector with 268,600 jobs.

March 2024: 212,500
February 2023: 212,100
March 2023: 209,900
Sector employment hit a peak of 224,100 in May 2010.

Education and Health Services
March 2024: 212,500
February 2023: 212,600
March 2023: 205,600
February marked an employment record for the sector.

March 2024: 161,100
February 2023: 159,300
March 2023: 163,000
Manufacturing, once the state’s largest jobs sector, posted record employment of 247,600 in March 1995.

Professional and Business Services
March 2024: 158,000
February 2023: 156,600
March 2023: 153,600
May 2023 marked an employment record for the sector with 158,100 jobs.

Leisure and Hospitality
March 2024: 130,400
February 2023: 128,100
March 2023: 127,500
March marked an employment record for the sector.

Financial Activities
March 2024: 71,300
February 2023: 71,200
March 2023: 70,200
March marked an employment record for the sector.

March 2024: 67,900
February 2023: 68,000
March 2023: 61,900
February marked a new employment record for the sector.