Arkansas’ jobless rate stays at 3.4% in May, up from 2.9% in May 2023

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 64 views 

A year-over-year gain of more than 8,500 net new jobs in May was not enough to offset a 17% rise in the number of unemployed, leaving Arkansas’ jobless rate at 3.4%, up from 2.9% in May 2023. The May jobless rate was unchanged from April.

The number of employed in Arkansas during May was an estimated 1,344,233, up 8,502 jobs, or 0.63%, compared with May 2023, and above the 1,340,827 in April, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report posted Tuesday (June 25). The May numbers are preliminary and subject to revision.

Arkansas’ labor force, the number of people eligible to work, in May was 1,391,151, up 1.1% from the 1,375,854 in May 2023, and above the 1,388,353 in April. The state’s labor force participation rate in May was 57.5%, unchanged from May 2023.

Arkansans without jobs in May totaled 46,918, down from the 47,526 in April, and up 17% compared with the 40,123 in May 2023.

The biggest year-over-year sector gains were in Education and Health Services (6,600 more jobs) and Construction (4,600 more jobs).

“The state employment report for May was generally positive. Household employment increased and unemployment decreased. Nevertheless, the unemployment rate was unchanged at 3.4% and nonfarm payroll employment was basically flat for the month,” Dr. Michael Pakko, chief economist and state economic forecaster at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s Institute for Economic Advancement, said about Tuesday’s BLS report. “Over the past twelve months, Arkansas payroll employment has increased by 16,200 – or approximately 1.2%. Over the same period, U.S. payroll employment has increased by 1.8%.”

Unemployment rates were lower in April in 5 states, higher in 2 states, and stable in 43 states compared with April, according to the BLS report. Thirty states had jobless rate increases from a year earlier, 1 state had a decrease, and 19 states had little change.

North Dakota and South Dakota had the lowest jobless rates in April at 2% each. The next lowest rate was in Vermont at 2.1%. The rate in Mississippi, at 2.8%, set a new series low. (All state series begin in 1976.) California had the highest unemployment rate at 5.3%, followed by Nevada at 5.1%. In total, 24 states had unemployment rates lower than the U.S. figure of 3.9%, 5 states had higher rates, and 21 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 (+306,000), Florida (+240,500), and California (+206,500).

Trade, Transportation, and Utilities
May 2024: 268,200
April 2024: 269,700
May 2023: 267,00
April marked an employment record for the sector.

May 2024: 212,700
April 2024: 212,500
May 2023: 210,000
Sector employment hit a peak of 224,100 in May 2010.

Education and Health Services
May 2024: 213,000
April 2024: 214,000
May 2023: 206,400
April marked an employment record for the sector.

May 2024: 161,400
April 2024: 161,000
May 2023: 163,200
Manufacturing, once the state’s largest jobs sector, posted record employment of 247,600 in February 1995.

Professional and Business Services
May 2024: 158,000
April 2024: 158,300
May 2023: 158,100
April marked an employment record for the sector.

Leisure and Hospitality
May 2024: 129,500
April 2024: 129,700
May 2023: 127,300
March marked an employment record for the sector with 130,200 jobs.

Financial Activities
May 2024: 71,100
April 2024: 71,000
May 2023: 70,200
February marked an employment record for the sector with 71,200 jobs.

May 2024: 67,500
April 2024: 67,900
May 2023: 62,900
February marked a new employment record for the sector with 68,000 jobs.