Arkansas Jobless Rate Stays At 3.8% In June, 49,000 Jobs Added In Last Year

Arkansas’ jobless rate remained unchanged in June from last month, however the state’s civilian pool remained declined slightly as employers added fewer worker to payrolls before the back-to-school employment surge begins in early August.

Labor force data, produced by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and released Friday (July 22) by the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, shows Arkansas’ seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in June stayed at 3.8%, an all-time low first touched in May. A year ago, the June jobless rate was 5.3%.

For the month, there were 1,359,425 workers in Arkansas’ civilian labor force now receiving paychecks or unemployment compensation, up 48,742 from a year ago but 3,147 less than the month of May.

“While the number of employed in Arkansas declined slightly in June, employment is still up 48,742 over the year,” Arkansas BLS Program Operations Manager Susan Price said in a statement.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Labor Department reported that the nation’s job market rose two percentage points to 4.9%. Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 287,000 in June as growth occurred in leisure and hospitality, health care and social assistance, and financial activities, Labor Department officials said.

The state’s closely-watched nonfarm employment in declined by 5,200 in June to a total of 1,230,500. Small employment gains came in seven major industry sectors, while three sectors posted losses. Jobs in government dropped 5,300. Declines in state (-4,200) and local (-1,400) government were attributed to summer closures at public schools and universities.

Employment in educational and health services also decreased 2,800. Most of the loss was seasonal, posted in educational services (-2,300). The largest increase occurred in professional and business services (+900), with gains in all three subsectors.

Arkansas sectors leading the year-over-year gains were professional and business services, adding a robust 8,200 jobs in the past 52 weeks. Educational and health services increased by 6900, mostly in health care and social assistance. Employment in trade, transportation, and utilities rose 5,000, while retail and whole at 3,500 and 1,700, respectively.

Leisure and hospitality added 2,400 jobs, mostly in food services (+2,000). Mining and logging posted the largest decline, down 1,400. Losses were attributed to layoffs and closures throughout the industry.

In June, the Trade, Transportation and Utilities sector – Arkansas’ largest job sector – employment decline by 600 to an estimated 257,900 workers in the labor pool, compared to 258,500 in May and 252,900 a year ago.

Education and Health Services sector lost 2,800 jobs in June and now has 179,100 workers in the state’s overflowing labor pool, compared with 181,900 in May and 172,200 in the same period a year ago. This sector has seen steady growth in the past decade, with employment in the sector up almost 20% since May 2006 and 6.9% in the past year.

Manufacturing jobs in Arkansas rose for the second straight month in June to 154,500, almost level with year ago levels of 154,100. Peak employment in the sector was 247,300 in February 1995.

Government hiring in the state continued to decline as some 5,300 workers were laid off or removed from local, state or federal payrolls. There are now 211,300 government workers on state payrolls, now the second-largest nonfarm sector behind Trade, Transportation and Utilities. A year ago, there were 210,600 government jobs in Arkansas.

The construction sector employed an estimated 49,300 in June, up 600 from a month ago and just off year ago levels 49,400. The sector is well off the employment high of 57,600 reached in May 2007.

Arkansas’ healthy tourism sector (leisure & hospitality) added 700 new workers in June as the state’s parks and recreation destinations are in full swing during the vacation driving. There are now 118,200 workers in the state’s tourism sector, up 2.4% from a year ago.