Arkansas Jobless Rate Drops To National Average But Labor Force Shrinking

Aug 18, 2014

Unemployment Rate For Arkansas and US Since 2008

Unemployment numbers released Monday show July as another month with an improving jobless rate in Arkansas dropping one-tenth of a percent to the national average of 6.2 percent.

Michael Pakko, the senior economist at UALR’s Institute for Economic Advancement, said the report shows both good and troubling news.

“The number of unemployed Arkansans was down again for the 11th consecutive month. On the other hand the somewhat puzzling and disturbing part of the report is that the number of employed Arkansans continues to decline. Over the past four months we’ve seen that number drop by over 21,000,” said Pakko.

He said the shrinking labor force is a result of a several factors but it’s hard to pinpoint what is the greatest cause.

“It could be that young people are going back to school or staying in school longer or some could be choosing early retirement or simply dropping out of the labor force altogether due to being discouraged about the opportunity to find a job. It’s really difficult to sort all those possible explanations out,” said Pakko.

Education and health sectors saw a gain of over 4,200 jobs. Manufacturing and construction grew by over 2,300 while the number of government jobs shrank by 200.